Minnesota GOP chair faces vote over leadership as controversy grows

Jennifer Carnahan’s uncertain future as chair of the Minnesota Republican Party faces a key test Thursday, as public and private pressure to resign mounts.

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What’s happening: The state GOP’s 15-member executive board meets Thursday night.

Carnahan has said she’ll call for a vote of confidence following a weeklong public firestorm over her ties to indicted donor Anton Lazzaro and growing criticism of her professional and private conduct.

State of play: On Wednesday, four past executive directors who left during Carnahan’s tenure joined calls for her resignation or removal, writing the party is “morally bankrupt” under the leadership. One of those former staffers, Andy Aplikowski, issued a second statement Thursday morning alleging that Carnahan knew about Lazzaro’s troubles in July.

Those letters followed statements from several young GOP women accusing the chair of bullying and allowing harassment to go on unchecked.

But the process for removing a chair requires support of two-thirds of the executive board, followed by a vote of the full State Central Committee. So far, Carnahan and her allies have been able to block those moves.

What she’s saying: Carnahan has rejected calls to resign, calling them part of a “coup” against her.

She didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But she denied allegations that she or the party ignored sexual harassment complaints in a statement to the Star Tribune.

Between the lines: Even if she has the votes to remain in her post, leading the party effectively could be a challenge in light of all the public backlash.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional statements from Aplikowski and Carnahan.

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