State Rep. David FitzSimmons said Monday he would not completely rule out running in a primary election after a defeat at his local endorsing convention.
The Albertville Republican said he has no intention of running, but added "at this point," giving himself ample wiggle room after being voted out by local activists upset at his support for same-sex marriage.
Roughly 160 local delegates on Saturday overwhelmingly selected newcomer Eric Lucero, who had strong backing of local conservatives and the Minnesota Family Council, which opposes same-sex marriage.
Lucero spent months quietly meeting with delegates, trying to assure them he is the more reliable conservative. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
John Helmberger, CEO of Minnesota Family Council, called Lucero, "a candidate who truly represents their values -- who will stand for life, true marriage, and meaningful religious freedom."
FitzSimmons has been under relentless attack by critics saying they felt betrayed by his sudden support for same-sex marriage during the last legislative session. Critics also questioned his romantic relationship with Sarah Walker, a Capitol lobbyist who was on the board of the group that worked to legalize same-sex marriage.
“The attacks that I have suffered over the last nine months, and character assassinations and half-truths and fabrications, continued right through the convention,” FitzSimmons said.
FitzSimmons is seen as a master at orchestrating convention wins, particularly his work that led to former Rep. Tom Emmer winning the GOP nomination for governor nearly four years ago.
FitzSimmons said he had a hard time getting his supporters to the meeting and walked into a convention stacked with opposition.
“If you’re broke, you can have a great accountant, but he is still going to tell you are broke,” FitzSimmons said.
Local political conventions are typically filled with the most diehard and unforgiving activists. FitzSimmons said he would likely fare better with the more diverse pool of GOP primary voters, who might focus more on his his unwavering opposition to taxes and abortion.
“I have had a lot of people push me to run in a primary, and a lot of people saying I would win,” FitzSimmons said. “And I don’t know that I disagree with them.”