Brown Co. Republicans gather in Sleepy Eye

SLEEPY EYE – State Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-16B) of Hanska, announced Saturday he has a challenger in the November general election, during comments at the Brown County Republican Convention at the Orchid Inn.

Austin Grossenburg of New Ulm, a science teacher at Springfield High School, had introduced himself as a candidate for the District 16B House seat at last weekend’s Redwood County Democratic Convention.

Grossenburg could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Torkelson and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-16)?of Redwood Falls were both unanimousy endorsed for re-election at the convention.

Torkelson, 63, the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee Chairman and Legislative Water Commission Co-Chairman, said he’s had a busy legislative session so far, and some of the busiest weeks remain as his committee deals with the state’s bonding bill.

“We can’t possibly fund all the $5 billion in project requests, but I’ll listen to all proposals,” Torkelson said.

He praised the State Capitol refurbishing project that has improved the appearance of interior murals.

“I’m opposed to removing any of the existing art work because somebody complained about it,” Torkelson said. “I don’t think that will happen. Once you start removing it, where do you stop?”

District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, Redwood Falls, said it’s important that Republicans maintain their political leverage to deal with Gov. Mark Dayton.

“He’s a very interesting individual. He may come out on one side of an issue and change his mind,” Dahms said.

Dahms said he currently has no political challengers for the November election.

Former Brown County Republican Chairman Jim Hahn spoke on behalf of Congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth. “Despite being outspent six to one, Jim was defeated by Tim Walz by a fairly slim margin, 54 to 46 percent in the last election. It was Walz’ closest race since 2006,” Hahn said. “Walz is backed by big, wealthy organizations and politicial action committees (PACs).

“You won’t find a harder working candidate than Jim. I followed him once at a large parade. He shook hands with many thousands of people,” Hahn added. “Walz endorsed Hillary Clinton and she’s way underwater. It’s the time to take him out. He’s never beaten an opponent twice.”

Hagedorn’s campaign planks include:

Guarding against Islamic terrorism with a refugee program “timeout.”

Securing America’s borders and enforcing existing immigration laws.

Replacing Obamacare with free-market reforms.

Regulatory reform to defeat the EPA and excessive rulemaking.

Broad-based tax simplification.

Reinstating work-for-welfare (for able-bodied recipients).

Budget reform with zero-based budgeting.

Empowering veterans to choose their own doctors and medical care.

Defend the Second Amendment, life, and religious freedom.

First District delegates are Greg and Marty Bartz, Scott Waldner, Bert Wilson, Lori Wehrwein, Josh Anderson, Kevin Schneider, Jim Hahn, Kris Schneeberg, Rachael MacKay, Nathaniel Mayhew, Jim Lamecker and Pam Gieseke.

State convention delegates are Hahn, Dave Koester, the Bartzes, Dan Olson, Schneeberg, Gieseke, MacKay, Lee Johnson, Lamecker, Anderson and Brian Mathiowetz.

Scott Waldner received the Brown County Republican of the Year Award for Distinguished Service.