Johnson continues to back MacDonald

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.