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New political group may help Republicans who support gay marriage

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Republicans Updated: March 18, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Minnesota Republican candidates have a new source of help, commandeered by longtime political players.

This week Minnesotans for Conservative Leadership filed a new committee to spend money on the state's elections.

Former Minnesota Republican Party chair Pat Shortridge, a former congressional staffer and campaign consultant for high profile campaigns in Minnesota and elsewhere, is chairing the new group and Lonny Leitner, a former American Majority regional director and veteran of numerous campaigns, is the group's treasurer.

"Minnesota needs excellent conservative leaders and to get them and keep them we will make the necessary investments," Shortridge said.

The group's mission is to: "Promote and defend Minnesota’s first-rate conservative legislative leaders and encourage similar leadership from a broader spectrum of members and candidates."

Both Shortridge and Leitner have national connections that could help bring in campaign cash for the fight. And who might receive that help?

Shortridge said the group is tracking  Reps. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, and David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, races, "very, very, very closely."

Both Loon and FitzSimmons voted to legalize gay marriage in 2013 and were denied local Republicans' endorsement for re-election this year.

Earlier this month, Loon faced off against Republican activist Sheila Kihne for the party's nod. Neither won enough votes to win endorsement. Loon said she will run in a primary without the Republican party's official backing.

FitzSimmons has been unclear on his plans for a path forward after his local activists opted to back Eric Lucero in the Albertville district. Before he lost the endorsement, FitzSimmons said he would not run in a primary without his party's blessing. After it, FitzSimmons left open the possibility of a primary run.


 

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