GOP activist Neil Lynch said Tuesday he would run for chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, giving current Chairman Keith Downey a second challenger as he prepares to seek a second two years in the job.
Leading Republican activists meet this Saturday in Bloomington for leadership elections. Downey, a former state representative, had been running unopposed until last week when Bill Jungbauer, until recently chairman of the Second Congressional District Republicans, announced a challenge.
Lynch, a software engineer by trade who has lived in Minnesota since 1998, is currently chairman of the Minnesota chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. That's a national political action committee that promotes individual liberty, limited government and free market economics within the larger Republican Party.
Lynch said in a press release he wants to pursue a "plan to help the MNGOP become the majority party in Minnesota." It's a tall order: Republicans have not won a statewide election in Minnesota since 2006.
"The Republican Party of Minnesota is at a crossroads," Lynch said. "We're hampered by debt, we continue to lose statewide elections, and member morale is at an all-time low."
The party's persistent debt problems have been a focus of Downey's tenure, and the total current debt of about $1.4 million is smaller than when he took over the party. But he faced renewed criticism of financial decisions in the wake of complaints of unpaid bills by Republican consulting firms after the last election.
Jungbauer has also made the party's debt problems a focus of his challenge to Downey. But Lynch suggested he'd also aim to broaden the party's outreach efforts.
"Voters -- especially younger voters -- aren't buying our message anymore, and many longtime donors have stopped supporting us," Lynch said.