Donate
MN GOP Senate, MN Senate Race, Politics

In a surprise, Minnesota Republicans Back Royce White to Run Against Amy Klobuchar

The former basketball star-turned-activist was introduced by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. 

By Christopher Vondracek Star Tribune

Royce White, a former Black Lives Matter protester turned InfoWars darling, won the state Republican Party’s endorsement Saturday to challenge Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar for her U.S. Senate seat.
A one-time Minnesota Mr. Basketball, White said he felt “providence” in St. Paul’s RiverCentre after being introduced to the convention in a video address from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
A couple of hours later, White accepted the endorsement, winning with 67% of the vote on the first ballot.
“I’m a ‘We the People’ guy through and through,” White told the Star Tribune, moments before his victory was announced.
On stage, the 6-foot-8 White stood before an American flag, flanked by supporters hoisting “The People Are Coming” signs. White’s nomination to go up against the popular incumbent was a surprising choice, as he’s never held office, has entertained conspiracy theories and been dogged by debt.
“The number one problem in this country is money in politics,” White said. “The government is too big, and it’s mostly corrupt.”
White ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary two years ago seeking to challenge DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.
He spent much of his victory speech pushing back against accusations that his campaign was not well-funded. A federal campaign finance report filed Thursday reported his campaign has about $10,000 in cash. Minnesota Republican Party officials had indicated they had “reservations” about White’s lack of funding.
“I have debt, personal debt,” White said, retelling a story about his dismay at entering the NBA to find no mental health coverage in the collective bargaining agreement. White suggested that he refused to pursue his career after attempts by league officials to cajole him.
“The debt that I have is because I wouldn’t take the money,” he said.
Joe Fraser, a former naval intelligence officer from Minnetrista, had appeared the odds-on favorite for the GOP endorsement to challenge the three-term Democratic senator. But in recent weeks, a grassroots effort pushed White to the party forefront.
By Saturday morning, White’s posters papered the convention center in St. Paul. Channing Stowell, a delegate from East Bethel, held a banner reading “The People Are Coming.”
“He has kind of a Kennedyesque charisma to him,” Stowell said. “During the George Floyd riots, he gathered pastors together and led a march of upset Black people to the Federal Reserve, which is the heart of the issue.”
A populist, follow-the-money-trail spirit ran through White’s remarks Saturday.
“These people who tell you you’re citizens of the whole world are lying to you,” White said. “You’re citizens of this country.”
He then suggested, without specifics, that nefarious forces seek to “sell that value [of citizenship] out from here to Davos, Switzerland, to Beijing and back.”
White referred to Washington, D.C., as “the swamp,” claiming that “Amy Klobuchar is at the head of it, all this climate change and the LGBTQ.” Then he cited Klobuchar’s support for military funding for both Ukraine and Israel, calling those respective conflicts “forever wars.”
A Klobuchar campaign spokesman declined to comment Saturday on White’s endorsement. “The senator continues to do her work for Minnesota,” campaign spokesman Ben Hill said in a statement.
When Fraser took the stage, he appeared to represent a more traditional, Reagan-like Republican Party, calling for a shake-up rather than an emptying-out of Washington, D.C.
“I understand the complexities of the modern world,” Fraser said in an interview. “We can’t just walk away [from conflicts in Europe and the Middle East], come home with our toys and just hide and say, ‘We don’t want to be part of that anymore.’ Because the last time we did that, we ended up in World War II.”
But the convention faithful failed to rally around him. Even before the vote was announced, delegates waited in long lines to snap photos with White, dressed in a black jacket with a red flower in the lapel, and shake his hand.
Lloyd Ricker, a U.S. Air Force veteran and delegate from Stearns County, popped by a quiet Fraser booth after the speeches.
“We talked about giving money to all these wars,” said Ricker. “Well, I’d like to have someone in the Senate who has experienced [military service].”
After a fiery speech from former President Donald Trump the evening before, the state party had good news to report on Saturday. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer told the convention that the party was out of debt “for the first time in a decade.”
Money, and lots of it, will be needed to unseat Klobuchar. Even White acknowledged as much in his victory speech Saturday afternoon.
Boasting that his great-grandmother helped found a Catholic church for Latinos on St. Paul’s West Side, White predicted political operatives for Klobuchar would “dump a billion dollars” into the race “if they feel that I can go into Hennepin and Ramsey and Dakota [counties] and pull out 10 to 20 percent” of Black and Latino voters.
While the GOP endorsement carries weight, it’s not a shoo-in for becoming the party’s ultimate nominee; that happens in the Aug. 13 primary. A campaign staffer for Fraser said the candidate had not decided as of Saturday afternoon if he will run in the primary.
Donate

SOCIAL MEDIA