The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 6, 2013

Minnesota GOP chooses former rep Downey as chair

BLOOMINGTON — Minnesota Republicans picked a former state lawmaker from Edina on Saturday to take over their struggling party, banking on his vow to unite a group still struggling financially and reeling from a five-year statewide losing streak.

Meeting at a Bloomington hotel for their central committee meeting, Republican activists elected Keith Downey as state party chairman for the next two years. In a speech before the vote, Downey openly acknowledged the disputes that continue to divide the party.

“I hear a lot about factions in the party. I’m pretty done with the word ‘factions,”’ Downey said.

While predicting a 2014 election cycle likely filled with candidate endorsement battles and probable Republican primaries, Downey said: “After that, we come together as Republicans and we go for the win in November.”

Downey, a consultant to state and local governments on operations and strategy who said he’d shift to full-time work for the party, represented Edina in the Minnesota House from 2008 to 2012. He lost a 2012 bid for a state Senate seat that had long been held by Republicans; in that election, Democrats overturned GOP majorities in the state House and Senate.

Downey overwhelmingly won on the first ballot Saturday against three other candidates, several of whom criticized him as the establishment choice. He immediately replaces outgoing party chairman Pat Shortridge, who took over at the end of 2011 after his predecessor, Tony Sutton, stepped down amid steep criticism of party finances.

The financial mismanagement led to a series of embarrassing headlines for the GOP, reaching a high-water mark when the party narrowly averted an eviction from its St. Paul headquarters in early 2012. Under Shortridge, the party’s finances were slowly rebuilt, though the GOP remains about $1.6 million in debt.

The party’s political fortunes aren’t faring much better. It hasn’t won a statewide race in Minnesota since 2006, when former Gov. Tim Pawlenty was narrowly re-elected. And in November, the GOP lost hard-won legislative majorities seized just two years earlier — a loss by freshman GOP U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in northern Minnesota and an overwhelming victory by incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Allina drops celebrated birthing option MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Allina Health has pulled the drain plug on a celebrated birthing option at its 11 Minnesota hospitals and the Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis. Allina says it will no longer offer water births because of new guidance from the Ame

    April 24, 2014

  • Federal study finds mercury in trout caught in three Grand Canyon creeks PHOENIX — With their natural beauty and protected environments, the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the West would seem removed from having mercury in their streams and rivers. But a federal study found small levels of the contaminant in ra

    April 24, 2014

  • Post office sales fight grows SAN FRANCISCO — The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has issued a report to Congress that criticizes the U.S. Postal Service’s disposal of historic properties and calls for a suspension of all sales until a host of recommendations are implem

    April 24, 2014

  • Lawmakers jockey over budget surpluses WASHINGTON — Less than 24 hours after the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team beat cross-state rival Louisville to advance to the Sweet 16, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray asked state lawmakers for $80 million to renovate Rupp Arena, the iconic bui

    April 23, 2014

  • Minn. lawmakers seek to enhance privacy protection ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers are on the verge of cracking down on public employees who abuse their access to citizen data. A measure being negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee would do more to expose and punish data snoope

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger vot

    April 23, 2014

  • mfp church abuse Archbishop deposition on abuse made public Archbishop John Nienstedt says no one reprimanded who handled abuse

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Legislature takes aim at new lottery games Legislators angry lottery didn't tell of new games

    April 22, 2014

  • NE ski resort extends season Lutsen still has two to four feet of snow on its runs

    April 22, 2014

  • Mpls police looking for pit bull, owner Man injured, dog killed when attacked in park

    April 22, 2014