The Minnesota Republican Party is canceling plans to hold an in-person state convention next month, moving instead to an online gathering in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
State Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said the “completely unprecedented” situation prevents Republicans from gathering as planned. The convention was scheduled to take place in Rochester, just 11 days after the state’s current stay-at-home order is set to expire.
“Our state convention is comprised of more than 4,000 dedicated grassroots activists from around the state, and as we near our scheduled dates of May 15th & 16th, it has become evident that an in-person convention is no longer doable,” she said in a statement.
Under the new plan, first reported by MPR News, delegates will meet virtually to make an endorsement in the U.S. Senate race and pick representatives to attend the Republican National Convention later this year.
Both the GOP and DFL have grappled with how to conduct endorsements and other party business given restrictions on in-person gatherings. Local unit conventions, including upcoming endorsements for congressional races, are already being conducted online. Carnahan said success with those virtual meetings made her feel “confident in our decision to preserve the grassroots convention system to endorse our candidates and allow Minnesota Republicans to make their voices heard.”
The Minnesota DFL Party has not made a decision on its state convention, scheduled for the weekend of May 30. Both events typically take place before the June deadline for candidates to file for the state ballot.
In addition to endorsements and other party business, state and national conventions are an opportunity for political parties to energize and organize their supporters heading into an election.
The fate of the national conventions remains in the air. Democrats, set to meet in Milwaukee to officially nominate Joe Biden, have already moved their convention date from July to mid-August. The Republican National Convention is currently scheduled to take place in Charlotte starting Aug. 24.