Election 2024

Royce White wins GOP endorsement to run against DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar

A man speaks to a crowd.
U.S. Senate candidate Royce White.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

Delegates to the Minnesota Republican convention endorsed Royce White to take on DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar this fall.

In appealing for support for his endorsement, White, a podcaster and former professional basketball player, ripped the political establishment and the big bucks it demands from people seeking office.

“The reality is we need people now more than ever that can’t be bought,” White said at the podium. “They don’t have a price and I can’t stress that to you enough.”

While speaking to the convention, White acknowledged personal debt problems. He did not directly readdress his past criminal and court judgments.

Republicans endorsed White with “reservation.” White said he disagreed with the decision.

“I appreciate the committee and its process,” White said. “I hope we can change it in the future because the same reservations they had about me would surely fall on Donald Trump as well if he was running in this race.”

White won on the first ballot with more than two-thirds of the vote. White, who’s African American, also told the convention he can bring more people of color into the GOP.

“My effort in Ramsey, in Dakota, and Hennepin county is going to be simple,” White said. “Black people in this state and all across the country believe in a very, very common idea that the government is too big, and it’s usually corrupt,” White said to the cheer of delegates.

Several other Republican Senate hopefuls were also in the running. One of them, Joe Fraser, raised more money than all of the others, but Fraser was unable to get enough support come convention time. Fraser told MPR News earlier this year that he would support the endorsed candidate if he did not win party backing.

Much of the messaging at the Republican convention revolved around blaming Democrats for the nation’s woes, from inflation and illegal immigration to wars in the Middle East and Ukraine. Many delegates — Steve Biesterfeld of Willmar among them — said he thought Republicans are in a good position going to the November election.

“We’ve seen the crime, we’ve seen the riots, we’ve seen the encampments at the colleges, we’re all paying more for gas, pay more for groceries,” Biesterfeld said.

A highlight of this year’s GOP convention was an appearance and a nearly one-and-a-half hour speech from former President Donald Trump to the party’s annual Lincoln Reagan fundraiser dinner. Some tickets for the event sold for as much as $100,000.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a member of the House GOP leadership, told the convention Saturday that the party’s finances are in better shape now than they’ve been in a long time.

“Our state party is out of debt for the first time in over a decade thanks to President Trump’s partnership and last night’s event,” Emmer said.

At the Friday evening fundraiser, Emmer announced his campaign was also helping the state party with a $100,000 donation to help it prepare for the fall election.

There were disputes about rules and seating certain delegates, but there was unity among delegates that Donald Trump is on track to defeat President Joe Biden in November and that Republicans stand to benefit from fed-up Americans.

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