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MN GOP elects new chair, replacing ousted Jennifer Carnahan

He's a former state senate minority leader.

Minnesota's Republican Party has filled the vacancy left by former chair Jennifer Carnahan, less than two months after she stepped down in the fallout of the Anton Lazzaro sex trafficking scandal.

At a Saturday meeting in Hopkins, party members elected former state Senate Minority Leader David Hann as the new chair.

Hann, of Eden Prairie, served in the senate for 14 years, leaving office in 2017 after losing his seat to now-Sen. Steve Cwodzinski. 

Hann beat out a handful of other candidates, including Jerry Dettinger, the Andover-based CEO of Torque Fitness. 

He'll have little time to rest on his laurels. The party has its eyes on the hotly anticipated 2022 midterm elections, as well as rehabilitating its reputation after the indictment of Lazarro, a major Republican donor who had close ties to Carnahan.

On Saturday afternoon, congratulations poured in from Hann's colleagues across social media:

His job will be seeking to maintain his party's power in the Minnesota Senate, win the House, and try to become the first party chair since 2007 to lead the Republican Party to a statewide election win.

He has also pledged to work to rescue the state party's reputation following recent controversies, and per FOX 9, intends to attract more young voters.

Though his election begins a new chapter for the party, recent comments by Hann — as well as his choice of deputy chair — indicate that MN GOP may continue its focus on the 2020 election, and casting doubt on the results. 

Per Minnesota Reformer's J. Patrick Coolican, Hann at a forum last week "promised he’d use a law allowing the state parties to examine the "source code" of the voting machines used in last year's presidential election. 

Moreover, soon after his victory Saturday, Hann announced former state senate candidate Donna Bergstrom as his deputy chair. Bergstrom, who was defeated by DFLer Jen McEwen for the District 7 seat, sued over alleged voting irregularities, despite the fact that McEwen won by a two-to-one margin. 

That lawsuit was ultimately rejected by the Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this year, with MPR reporting Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said Bergstrom's challenge contained "vague allegations and failed to justify a deeper ballot inspection."

Hann's predecessor, Carnahan, was ousted from her position in August, not only over her connections to Lazarro, but also reports of sexual harassment and misconduct from staffers, with former associates describing a "toxic environment" under her watch. 

Carnahan denied the claims and characterized the stories as coming from disgruntled individuals.

She's married to GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over what appears to be campaign finances. 

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