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State GOP rallies for Michelle Fischbach in District 7

Photo by Deb Gau Jennifer Carnahan, Minnesota GOP chairwoman, spoke to area Republican volunteers and supporters at an event Tuesday in Marshall.

MARSHALL — There are 84 days left before the November general elections, and for Minnesota Republicans there’s a lot of work still to do, Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said Tuesday. One of their priorities: flipping Congressional District 7, which has been represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson for close to 30 years.

“We are going to retire him this year,” Carnahan said. Carnahan met with a group of area Republican volunteers on Tuesday, both to give an update on key campaigns and issues, and to encourage them to raise support for candidates like Michelle Fischbach.

Carnahan said there’s heightened interest in the CD7 race this year. CD7 is one of the most strongly conservative districts in Minnesota that is represented by a Democrat, she said. In addition to the Republicans having an opportunity in the district’s conservative voter base, former state senator and former Minnesota lieutenant governor Michelle Fischbach is a strong candidate to challenge Peterson, Carnahan said.

“She, early on, received the endorsement of President Trump,” Carnahan said. She said Fischbach has also out-fundraised Peterson, and will be able to reach lots of voters. “She has a very strong campaign infrastructure.”

The Minnesota GOP has been doing field work to raise support for Fischbach since June, Carnahan said. It’s what brought her to west-central and southwest Minnesota this week. Since Saturday, Carnahan had made stops in Litchfield, Fergus Falls, Alexandria and Willmar.

“We’re covering a lot of ground,” she said. CD7 stretches from Pipestone and Murray County in the south all the way to the Canadian border. But she hoped that by heading to regional centers, the party would be able to draw in supporters from across a wider area. So far, Carnahan said, “The response is encouraging.”

While Fischbach received the Republican party endorsement for CD7, she wasn’t the only candidate running against Peterson on Tuesday’s primary ballot. Fischbach was one of five Republican candidates on the ballot, along with William Louwagie, Jayesun Israel Sherman, Noel Collis and Dave Hughes.

In addition to hearing Carnahan speak, volunteers also heard from area state legislators. Sen. Gary Dahms, Rep. Chris Swedzinski, and Sen. Bill Weber all addressed the group.

“This is a very important vote, especially with Sen. Fischbach running for Congress,” Dahms said.

While Dahms, Swedzinski and Weber all encouraged the group to vote in the primary, they also said there will be some important battles ahead for Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota Legislature. Weber said one concern was the state falling under the “dictatorial control” of one individual, through Gov. Tim Walz’s extensions of the peacetime state of emergency for COVID-19.

At the state level, Carnahan said the Minnesota GOP was also fighting changes to election procedures. For Tuesday’s primary, voters casting an absentee or mail ballot didn’t need to have witness signatures for their ballots to be accepted; and they could still have their ballots accepted after Tuesday, as long as the ballots were postmarked on or before election day.

“They’re trying to push this for the general election as well,” Carnahan said. The push to go to mail-in ballots for the general election was another concern, she said. Compared to absentee ballots, which have to be requested, mailing ballots to all registered voters would open the door to fraud, Carnahan said.

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