Jeff Johnson talks with supporters at his State Fair Booth. Tom Scheck/MPR News

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson says he’s standing by the party’s endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court even as other party leaders distance themselves.

Party leaders banned Michelle MacDonald from campaigning at the Republican Party’s State Fair booth because in 2013 she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest.


Michelle MacDonald, the GOP endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, looks at campaign literature inside the GOP booth before security asked her to leave. Tom Scheck/MPR News

On Thursday, MacDonald defied requests from party officials and security personnel and appeared at the booth anyway.

Despite the party’s decision to keep MacDonald away from the booth, Johnson says he’ll continue to support her.

“I am the leader of our ticket so I’m going to support our endorsed candidates,” Johnson said. “I will tell you that I’m not thrilled with the distraction and the way she’s been acting. It’s not helpful, but I’m going to stick with the ticket.”

Johnson’s statement comes one day after Scott Newman, the Republican candidate for Attorney General, said he’s backing Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug over MacDonald. He said MacDonald is unfit to serve.

Johnson said he has not spoken with MNGOP Chair Keith Downey or other party leaders about their decision to ban MacDonald. He said he’s too focused on his own race to get involved in another one.

But Johnson also suggested MacDonald should back off her push to appear at the booth.

“I just don’t think we need to be creating scenes,” Johnson said. “I think she should be out there campaigning like the rest of us and if there’s a dispute then you figure out where people actually want you and listen to you.”

Johnson made his comments from his own State Fair booth. He said he intends to spend a lot of time at the Fair meeting with voters.

  1. Listen Policast: Aug. 22, 2014

poligraph-accurateSen. Amy Klobuchar stopped by the MPR News State Fair booth this week to talk about beer, guns and the economy.

But her answer to a question about student loan debt stood out to PoliGraph.

“When you look at the average debt for students in Minnesota… it’s something like $30,000,” Klobuchar said.

College graduates aren’t trained for the jobs that are available, she added.

“One of the things that I’ve found frustrating is that we have something like 80 percent of our manufacturers in Minnesota have job openings,” she said.

Klobuchar is nearly correct on both accounts.

The Evidence                   

Minnesota graduates carry a lot of debt compared to other states.

In 2012, Minnesota ranked fourth with average student debt around $31,500.

Klobuchar argues that part of the problem is that students aren’t finding good paying jobs after they graduate. Some of those jobs are now in the manufacturing sector, but students don’t have the right skills for the work.

“Some of these jobs are good jobs. They’re running robotics equipment, fixing it,” Klobuchar said. “These manufacturing jobs are no longer the three ‘Ds’: Dark, Dirty and Dangerous.”

Among all Minnesota manufacturers, about 67 percent say it is difficult to attract qualified candidates to job vacancies. Klobuchar’s staff says she was specifically talking about Minnesota’s large manufacturers. Roughly 80 percent of them have this problem.

The Verdict

Although she was a little imprecise, Klobuchar is essentially correct. She earns a State Fair blue ribbon.

Welcome to the Daily Digest.


State Fair campaigning got off to a strong start yesterday.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson wants 13 debates with Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton is sticking with six debates. (MPR News)

Republican endorsed Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald is seeing support for her candidacy erode. (MPR News)

MPR News politics editor Mike Mulcahy interviewed Sen. Amy Klobuchar. (MPR News)

Here’s a video of Dayton taking the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Billy Czerwinski isn’t old enough to vote. But that didn’t stop him from creating his own super PAC. (MPR News)


A top U.S. military official says stopping the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would require attacking Syria. (The New York Times)

Ferguson, Missouri, is calmer after a visit from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. (The Hill)

The Government Accountability Office says the United States violated law when it swapped Taliban leaders for an American prisoner of war. (AP via Star Tribune)