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GOP caucus-goers favor Dr. Scott Jensen

About 30% of the attendees were first-timers. "Whenever you get brand new people that are legal voters, that means we are going towards the right direction," said Jim Nelson, senior chair for the Douglas County Republicans.

GOP caucus attendees.
Douglas County GOP caucus attendees socialize outside the Alexandria Area High School auditorium before the start of the event.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — Dr. Scott Jensen won "overwhelmingly" in the Douglas County Republican caucus straw poll for governor Tuesday, Feb. 1, according to Jim Nelson, senior chair for the county republicans.

Statewide, Jensen also won, receiving 6,144 votes or 38% of the votes in the non-binding poll between six GOP candidates.

"There wasn't anybody close to him, you know," said Nelson.

Nelson estimates that 170 to 180 participants came out for the event despite the bad weather conditions.

About 30% of those were first-time caucus attendees.

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"Whenever you get brand new people that are legal voters, that means we are going towards the right direction... I really appreciated their high spirit and enthusiasm.," said Nelson. "We are working together for the same cause."

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State sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen addressed the GOP caucus participants on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Performing Arts Center in the Alexandria high school.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

John Chlian said this is the second caucus he had attended in his 50 years as a voter.

"That tells you how important it is," added Chlian. "The border situation really bothers me a lot. You hear more and more about all people coming over the border illegally."

Robin Johnson of Alexandria echoed Chlian's sentiments. She is worried about the people crossing the southern border illegally and the "lawlessness in the country."

She said she is putting her support behind Jensen's honesty and courage.

"He's not afraid to stand up even when he and his family have been threatened," said Johnson.

The event started at 7 p.m., with Nelson welcoming everyone and leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pastor Mike Bartolomeo led the invocation. Before the prayer, he opened with a quote from the second President of the United States, John Adams: "We have no government armed with power, capable of continuing with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

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Following the invocation, Douglas County Republican Secretary Mark Anthony read letters from U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, state Reps. Paul Anderson, Jeff Backer and state Sen. Torrey Westrom. And speeches were made by state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and Rep. Mary Franson.

Each covered different issues that worry the party, like inflation, tax cuts, crime, civil liberties, voter integrity and abortion.

"Who is excited to defeat Tim Walz?" Franson said.

Franson then welcomed the attendees as long as they were "legal voters." This was in reference to the state DFL's decision to allow illegal immigrants and felons who haven’t completed their sentences to participate in precinct caucuses.

Anderson also referenced the DFL's decision in his letter by saying Minnesota statute states only those individuals who are or will be eligible to vote at the time of the next state general election may vote or be elected as a delegate or officer in a precinct caucus.

Franson went on to say how mask mandates "didn't work well for our civil liberties." She then referenced a study from Johns Hopkins University, which she said stated: "Lockdowns had little to no public health effects, while they have imposed enormous and economic societal costs."

Franson says the "virus" that needs to be fought is an authoritarian government. "We cannot be successful without your involvement," she concluded.

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Todd Jensen helps direct a caucus attendee to her precinct's designated room.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"If you haven't noticed, there is a battle going on to the heart of the soul of America and the state of Minnesota. One side, the Democrats, are ready and willing to discard the principles that made our country great, like fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and a strong belief in individual liberties such as health care freedom," Westrom said in his letter.

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He encouraged Americans to fight back against the failures of communism, socialism and heavy-handed dictatorial government. "We must stand for fair and honest elections and do whatever we can to enact common-sense voter ID and provisional ballots here in Minnesota," Westrom said.

Backer said the issues that need addressing are defending the Second Amendment, standing up for the rights of the unborn and making sure "Governor Walz or any future governor cannot abuse the state's peacetime emergency powers."

Ingebrigtsen said during his last year as a state senator, he'll remain tough on crime, help prevent the Green New Deal from "creeping" its way into the state government, and stand firm on tax cuts.

In her letter, Fischbach said she'd continue to fight Nancy Pelosi and the left's "mindless" spending. "I encourage you to volunteer to be a delegate to your county convention. We need your help to succeed this November and keep District 7 red," said Fischbach.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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