MN GOP Senate candidates Joe Fraser, Royce White to face off in primary, winner takes on Sen. Amy Klobuchar

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Minnesota Republican Joe Fraser reversed himself on Thursday and said he would run in a U.S. Senate primary, pointing to concerns over the background of the GOP-endorsed candidate.

Earlier in May, Republicans gave a first-round endorsement of Royce White, a podcaster and former NBA player. But since then, there have been numerous reports on questionable campaign spending during a prior White campaign and more details coming to light about legal troubles he has faced.

Fraser, a Navy veteran and businessman making his first run for office, had earlier pledged to honor the state convention endorsement. He cited the problems in White’s past as justification to press ahead to an August primary.

Joe Fraser and Royce White (Courtesy of Fraser; Clint Austin / Forum News Service)

“When fewer than half of the elected delegates show up to the convention and signal their support for a candidate with a history of questionable conduct and serious charges leveled against him, it was no longer a question about party endorsement, but about the choice we, as a party, are offering Minnesotans who are desperately seeking new leadership,” Fraser wrote in the statement.

He went on to say, “Minnesotans deserve better.”

The winner will face DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar this fall.

Before his endorsement, the Republican Party qualified White’s candidacy with reservations.

White, who has not replied to MPR News inquiries, downplayed his legal issues at the endorsing convention.

“The same reservations they had about me would surely fall upon Donald Trump as well if he was running in this race,” White told the delegates.

Fraser said many people contacted him encouraging him to challenge White in the primary.

In his statement, Fraser suggested White could drag down other Minnesota Republican candidates if he’s the nominee against Klobuchar.

In a departure from standard practice, Klobuchar chose not to respond to White’s endorsement.

She could talk about her potential opponents this weekend in Duluth as Democrats will gather for their state convention. At the DFL convention on Saturday is a Senate endorsement. Klobuchar is in pursuit of a fourth term in the Senate.

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