Munson wins Republican Endorsement for House District 23B
By Joe Steck – Mankato Times
MAPLETON, MINN. — Republican Jeremy Munson won the Minnesota House District 23B endorsement last night at the Mapleton Community Center and will be running in a special election to replace Tony Cornish who resigned from office November 30.
Delegates and alternates from Blue Earth, Waseca, Watonwan and Le Sueur Counties listened to speeches from Munson and his opponent, Scott Sanders before they voted for their candidate. Sanders is a Watonwan County Commissioner and farmer who is married with five children.
Munson won on the first ballot and will face Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) candidate Melissa Wagner during the special election on February 12, 2018. Other candidates could come forward between now and January 8th when the candidate filing period begins.
“I want to thank Scott Sanders for running a good race. He too is a stand-up guy that I like a lot,” said Munson “I promise three things. To never stop working to get things done at the Capitol, to be accessible and listen to you and to always work to make the voices of rural Minnesota heard.”
Munson is a fifteen year resident of the district with a diverse background in agriculture, entrepreneurship, and financial analysis. He has been active in the Republican Party since 1995 and was elected to his first party leadership role in 2007. Munson served as the Minnesota First Congressional District Republican Party Chairman and as the Chairman of the Blue Earth County Republicans.
Munson previously worked on a family farm, working in hog barns, cleaning out grain bins, driving combines, and hauling corn. He currently owns a hops farm. Through these experiences, he learned to appreciate the risks farmers face every year with razor thin margins, volatile input and output prices, and burdensome state regulations.
Munson and his wife Kallie have been married for thirteen years and together raise their two daughters, Gretta (age 7) and Stella (age 10).
Munson explained how the endorsing process works.
“The endorsing process is very important. We as a party had delegates come out in the snow to choose a candidate to represent this district in the special election,” said Munson “We spent hours on the phone talking with delegates about the issues that are important to them and what I stand for. I also drove 100’s of miles holding meetings to inform voters of my views and to learn about the challenges facing our communities.”
Even though 23B is a republican stronghold, party members are not taking the race for granted – which was evident by the presence of Minnesota Republican Chair Jennifer Carnahan, Representative Paul Torkelson (Hanska) and First Congressional House candidate Jim Hagedorn.
“This seat is critical. This is republican territory and if we lose this seat it would send a wrong message to the DFL that they could take any seat in the State so it is really important to hold this seat,” said Rep. Torkelson “We have two really strong candidates here and I believe we are on our way to another victory here but we cannot take this for granted because this sets up what may happen in the fall of 2018.”
Hagedorn was at the event to show his support.
“This is a very important district in southern Minnesota. We have been working hard with the local republican parties in the four counties that are represented to make sure elect every republican. They have been kind to me and I am going to throw my support right back.” Hagedorn said
Some have called Hagedorn the hardest working candidate in the state, showing up at events throughout the first district. In 2016 he had 49.6% of the vote against incumbent Rep. Tim Walz, even though his campaign was outspent 4 to 1.
“After that election we kept going. We are pulling a John Kline, Newt Gingrich and a Collin Peterson trying to go three in a row on the ballet and low and behold Walz decided to do something different. When he left the race last March this became the best republican takeover opportunity in the country with the open seat,” he said “But we didn’t rest. Given some of the advantages of incumbency swinging our way with name ID, connections across the district and experience to run the race. We didn’t rest, we have walked 50 parades and have been working the district with hundreds of stops.”
Even though this is an off year election, Hagedorn said he is raising money for the campaign.
“We have been out raising money. We will have more than one-half a million dollars this year in this off year race which is very good if you are not an incumbent,” said Hagedorn “We also have been bringing the Republican Party behind us which is evident with the many endorsements we have at the National, State and local levels including State Senator Julie Rosen who supports our campaign. Then we have people like Jerry Groebner, vice-chair of the Blue Earth County Republican Party, Jack Zimmerman, Deputy Chair of Le Sueur County along with Taylor Zinkle and Susan Jirele, co-chairs of Waseca County and then Paul Lentz, the chair of Watonwan County so we have a lot of friends here.”
Carnahan also wanted to show her support for the candidates and activists.
“I came down to the endorsing convention because I think it is important. We have two seats up in the special elections this February and I think it will be an early indicator of what is ahead in 2018. I think it is important that the state party chair be supportive of our candidates and activists throughout the state.”
She is seeing a lot of positives throughout Minnesota.
“The energy across Minnesota remains incredibly high. All the stories you hear from the national news how Trump approval ratings are down and people are abandoning their support of him – I am not seeing that anywhere I go, and I am going to every corner of the State across all eight congressional districts,” she said “The positivity towards the president is high with the tax bill passing, which is another positive in the right direction for our country. It is another positive stamp for the president that he is doing what he said he was going to do when he ran for office. I think that positivity will trickle down and help all republicans running for office.”
After the passage of the latest tax bill, numerous companies including AT&T, Comcast and Fifth Third Bancorp came out and said they would be giving bonuses to employees while Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bancorp said they plan to hike their hourly rate to $15. Several other businesses have made positive statements with FedEx saying they expect GDP growth next year due to the reform and expect to be hiring and also give pay raises.
“I think it shows a positive faith in the direction the country is heading. We have per capita one of the highest densities of fortune five hundred companies in this state, and I use to work in that world. We have seen those companies lay people off and lay people off over the last six to seven years. Now with this tax bill passing and the changes to our economy people can start adding more head counts and giving more bonuses. It just shows we can stimulate the economy and move it back in the right direction for Minnesota.”
A few years back the State Republican Party was in major debt and couldn’t afford to pay their bills. Since Carnahan has taken over as Party Chair, that debt has been reduced and fundraising is on the rise.
“The fundraising over the past couple of months has been incredibly strong. Six years ago, four years ago we had over $2 million in debt and we couldn’t pay the bills. Now we have over six figures in the bank and we raised almost $2 million this year, which is great for a non-election year,” she said “We are now number two in the country for fundraising which will position the party well in 2018. The debt is paid down almost 30% this year where it is under $800,000.”
Carnahan thinks 2018 should be a good year for Minnesota Republicans because she feels the DFL is out of touch.
“I think the democrats are so out of touch and do not see the bigger picture with what is going on in our country. They still can’t figure out why they lost in 2016,” she said “Their approach now moving from 2017 into 2018 is to continue to attack the president and anything he does. They attack anything the Republican Party does as a state and national party and it is not going to work because when people see real change effecting their lives that will continue to keep the Republican Party strong.”