Security guards block Michelle MacDonald from the GOP State Fair booth. Tom Scheck/MPR News

The Republican candidate for Minnesota Attorney General is distancing himself from the party’s endorsed candidate for the state Supreme Court.

State Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said today that he is supporting current Justice David Lillehaug, rather than Lillehaug’s GOP challenger Michelle MacDonald.

Lillehaug is a Democrat who was appointed to the court by Gov. Mark Dayton.

MacDonald won party backing at the Republican state convention. It was later revealed that she was charged with drunk driving and resisting arrest in 2013.

Newman said in a news release that he cannot support MacDonald.

“I believe her conduct in connection with her arrest, as well as recent comments and conduct demonstrate a temperament that is inconsistent with the duties of a Supreme Court Justice,” Newman said.

MacDonald also ran into problems today at the Minnesota State Fair. Republican Party of Minnesota officials voted yesterday to ban her from their fair booth. Security guards were on hand to make sure she stayed away. But MacDonald entered the booth twice.

“I don’t think it’s justice, and I don’t think it’s fair,” MacDonald said after leaving the booth.  “I’m doing nothing wrong, and they’re doing everything wrong.”

MacDonald also pointed out that Republican Party Chair Keith Downey sent out a memo earlier this year telling party leaders that they must support the party’s endorsed candidates or resign their position. She said Downey should resign his position for blocking her from the party booth. An official with the party said Downey would appear at the booth to take questions, but by late afternoon he hadn’t appeared.

(MPR News reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this report)


Jeff Johnson outside of his State Fair Booth MPR Photo/tom Scheck

Republican Jeff Johnson is calling on DFL Governor Mark Dayton to agree to 13 debates including two at the Minnesota State Fair. Johnson, the Republican nominee for governor, made the pitch during a news conference at the State Fair this morning. Governor Dayton has declined an invitation by MPR News to participate in a state fair debate. Johnson said he believes Dayton is ducking debates. He said he hopes Dayton reconsiders.

“I hope he changes his mind,” Johnson said. “We have a pretty long tradition of governor debates at the State Fair and I think we have that tradition because you will not find a broader cross section of Minnesotans than you will find at the State Fair.”

Dayton said he will agree to six debates between Labor Day and Election Day. He said he would like to see three debates in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and three debates in rural Minnesota. Dayton called Johnson’s proposal a “contrived issue.”

“I think he should go around the state and lay out his positions,” Dayton said. “If he wants to talk about the business climate then talk about it. He claims everyone is leaving then why do we have the lowest rate of any metropolitan area and we have low unemployment rates all over the state of Minnesota. He wants to debate then let’s hear him put some flesh on the bones then we’ll have something to debate.”

Dayton is also scheduled to make several other appearances at the debate. He said he’s going to take the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS.