After Minnesota Republican Party chair Tony Sutton's sudden resignation Friday, a long planned party meeting Saturday met to call for unity -- and voice complaints.

The Central Committee meeting was rife with words of calm.

"Let's all take a big deep breath," said state Sen. Dan Hall, as he opened the convention with an invocation.

Congressman John Kline, the senior Republican in the state's congressional delegation, said Sutton's abrupt departure "came as a big surprise" but "there's no panic here."

He said the party can and must regroup to get ready for the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, former deputy party chair Michael Brodkorb said he confronted former 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer at the meeting.

"What's occurring today in the party is a clean up effort from his gubernatorial campaign," said Brodkorb, who stepped down from the party's deputy chair post in October. "What I told him directly was that he needs to take a lot of responsibility for what's going on here today.

The party is about $500,000 in debt from the 2010 elections and Republicans also owe about $500,000 in a special recount fund, started up to fight Emmer's 9,000-vote loss to Democrat Mark Dayton.

Brodkorb said that after Emmer was endorsed by the Republicans in the spring of 2010, he did little to rework his campaign for the general election and became so toxic that GOP phone bankers couldn't mention his name as they made their calls.

"That campaign had ample opportunity to readjust," he said. "At the end of the day we can endorse all the candidates we want. But at the end of the day, it's about winning elections...Mr. Emmer was probably the one candidate on the Republican side that couldn't win."

Emmer, who appeared at the meeting briefly in the morning, was not immediately available to react. But his former campaign manager David FitzSimmons, whom Brodkorb also fingered with blame, was.

FitzSimmons, who is the GOP 6th congressional district chair, said Brodkorb can have his own opinion and he has no position with the party.

He said Bordkorb's comments show him to be "a person who is not really looking at building any unity in the long-term commitment to this party. It's someone that's looking to take their shots and leave. All I can say is I'm still standing here."

But, FitzSimmons said, he will not be a candidate for party chair to take Sutton's place. Brodkorb also said he is not interested, as did Bill Guidera, the party's finance chair.

FitzSimmons and other Republican said the party should look for someone with a business background.