Clay County Republican faction holds own convention after state-recognized convention canceled amid turmoil – InForum
RURAL GLYNDON, Minn. — On Saturday, March 26, about 40 Clay County Republicans pretended to be holding their party’s county-level convention in the living room of a rural Glyndon farm.
The meeting was not sanctioned or recognized by the Republican Party of Minnesota and took place after the cancellation of the party’s county convention, which was to be held earlier in the day, after the state and the party of the county claimed that there were allegations of threats from the ousted leader of the organization. , Edwin Hahn.
Hahn was removed from his position on March 8 at a meeting of the organization’s executive committee following “irrational and unprofessional public conduct,” said David Hann, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party.
Since then, Hann said, Hahn has repeatedly misrepresented himself as a party officer and made baseless allegations against state and county party leaders.
The state party sent Hahn a cease-and-desist letter last week, saying Hahn must immediately stop running as county GOP chairman or face legal action, an effort Hahn called it an “attempted coup”.
Hahn declined to speak to the Forum for this story and declined numerous requests for comment on these recent events.
Tensions at Moorhead Armory
After Friday’s scheduled Saturday County convention was canceled, Hahn held a Friday night video meeting with supporters asking them to arrive at the Moorhead Armory convention site Saturday to be “accredited.” These attendees would then be directed to an alternate convention site.
Those attendees started arriving around 9 a.m. Saturday. One participant, Nikki Pollack, began addressing the gathering group and recording them on printed sheets.
An attendee tore up a letter taped to the front door of the Armory by the state GOP informing attendees that the convention was cancelled. Pollack told the group that everyone has the right to support whoever they want, but quickly turned the spotlight to Hahn’s ousting in a “secret meeting.”
She also blamed state party leaders, including Calvin Benson, district outreach coordinator for Minnesota’s 7th District Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, for “putting (Edwin) aside.”
“Who here supports election integrity?” said Pollock, to which each attendee raised their hands. “Calvin Benson is completely against it. He refused to create an electoral integrity task force when Edwin wanted to do so last June.
Bill Nichol, who said he represents the state’s Republican party, pushed back against that claim and others, saying he was there to “make sure you get a little on the other side.”
“Everyone on your board has lost faith in Edward,” Nichol told the band. “I realize it’s divisive and there are people who really believe in him. He’s a dynamic and great speaker, and quite honestly I agree with a lot of things Edwin said, but he acted out of control.
Hahn arrived at the Armory around 9:30 a.m. and moved most of the assembled group to a sidewalk away from the venue’s front door. As he did, the rest of the group heard from Rodney Johnson, who is now the state party’s recognized county chairman.
Johnson spoke about the differences he and Hahn have had, primarily about Hahn acting as the face of school board protests during deliberations over COVID-19 prevention measures.
“It wasn’t pretty having the face of Clay County Republicans to be the face and voice of these school protests,” Johnson said, “I agree with a lot of what the people were talking about. protesters, but when it’s the president of the Clay County Republicans… it’s given the other side every opportunity to say it’s just a bunch of political nonsense.
Johnson also said Hahn ordered him to sign a “loyalty pledge” that confessed the party was engaged in spiritual warfare in the name of Jesus Christ.
“I don’t believe God called any political party into spiritual warfare,” Johnson said, “especially considering that our party is made up of many people…I have good friends there, they call themselves atheists.
Vicki Baile, who was named a delegate to the convention, told Johnson that her actions denied her the right to act as a delegate.
“You have a beef with him (Hahn) and you’re costing the Republican Party a convention because your feelings hurt you,” Baile said.
Johnson said the county’s party executive committee plans to meet early next week to reschedule its convention and appoint new delegates for future conventions.
Around 10 a.m., Hahn and his assembled group left to hold the meeting they claimed was his rightful convention. As cars began to leave the Armory, Johnson said he still believed the party was in a strong position. He does not want to drag Hahn through the mud, he said, but the party cannot continue its work until it overcomes this problem.
“Edwin needs to stop what he’s doing,” Johnson said. “He received the cease and desist notice from the state, he continues to violate that, and I expect there to be legal action to come.”
“I had not anticipated all the drama”
The Forum was only allowed into the meeting held by Hahn’s group after that reporter was asked to leave temporarily and then presented to the gathered group. A vote was organized by the organization to allow the Forum to listen to the debates.
The rural house in Glyndon where Hahn’s group gathered was given the trappings of a political convention, with red, white and blue balloons and tables adorned with coffee, soup and bowls of sweets.
The group, led by Hahn, followed an agenda that included nominating delegates to future conventions and authorizing committee assignments, election judges, and a sergeant-at-arms.
One attendee, Rob Johnson of Barnesville, considers the group to be acting in “the will of the people” as opposed to “a small group meeting behind closed doors,” referring to the March 8 meeting where Hahn was ousted.
Johnson said he and his fellow attendees, nominated by their group as delegates, plan to attend future conventions in the state and will have to “wait and see how that pans out.”
A lifelong Republican, Johnson said he has been active in the county party for about a year.
“I didn’t anticipate all the drama,” he said of his political activity, “but I’ve enjoyed the experience so far. Met a lot of people. Its been good.”
Despite any drama, his support for Hahn is unwavering.
“It’s very strong, very strong,” he said of his confidence in Hahn’s leadership.