Heather J. Carlson - postbulletin.com - While some southeast Minnesota Republicans are already pledging to vote for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, others aren't ready to commit.
"At this point, I'm just going to wait and see what happens. I know that Trump is not a conservative. He's not a conservative on life. He's not a conservative on guns. He's not a conservative on a lot of issues," said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.
Rochester GOP Sen. Carla Nelson hasn't made up her mind about Trump yet, saying she's been focused on the legislative session.
"I haven't given it any thought, to tell you the truth at this point. But I'm sure there will be plenty of time between now and Nov. 8 to give that some thought," Nelson said.
Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, had a similar response.
"I haven't thought that far ahead at this point. I'm worried about getting through the next two weeks of the legislative session," Miller said.
Trump's big primary win in Indiana on Tuesday cemented his status as the party's presumptive nominee. His two remaining opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, ended their presidential bids following Trump's win. In Minnesota, Trump's campaign struggled to take hold. He placed third in the state's Republican caucuses, behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Cruz.
Some Republicans have been hesitant to declare support for Trump. Minnesota GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt — a delegate to the national GOP convention — told reporters this week he's not ready to say whether he'll vote for Trump.
"I don't think you can say that I will support him or not support him. I'm not saying either one," Daudt said.
Nationally, U.S. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he's not ready to support Trump at this point.
Some say time to get behind Trump
Republican Party of Olmsted County Chairman Aaron Miller said the time has come for local Republicans to get behind Trump.
"I will tell you this: People are slow to warm to the idea in southern Minnesota," Miller said.
Nonetheless, Miller is urging his fellow Republicans to unite behind Trump. He wrote a letter-to-the-editor to the Post-Bulletin in March calling on Republicans to rally behind the New Yorker. He's also seeking to be a delegate at the national convention for Trump.
Miller added, "It comes down to this: Do you want Hillary or do you want a Republican?"
Several local Republicans said they are willing to vote for Trump because they can't support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
"Donald Trump was not my first choice, not my second choice and probably not my third choice, but the process worked, the people have spoken and I consider the alternative to be far worse," said former Rochester Rep. Fran Bradley, who is running for the House District 25B seat.
Rochester GOP Rep. Nels Pierson agrees.
"I certainly think Trump compared to Hillary Clinton is a positive alternative and certainly over Bernie Sanders as well, so I will be voting for him in the fall," Pierson said.
'Happy' to run with Trump
First District GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn said he has no problem supporting Trump if he's the party's nominee. Hagedorn hopes to defeat 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz in November. He said Republicans are offering a bold vision focused on securing the nation's border, defending America from radical Islam and reducing government bureaucracy.
"Whoever wins, I'm happy to run with. I'm focused on Tim Walz and showing the differences," Hagedorn said.
Byron GOP Rep. Duane Quam is also ready to cast a ballot for Trump if he's the party's nominee, saying that it's critical something is done to improve the nation's economy.
"We've got to do something to change things around," Quam said.
House Taxes Committee Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said he's said from the beginning he'd support party's nominee and "I see no reason to change that position."
Toning down the rhetoric
Some Republicans are holding out hope that Trump will tone down his rhetoric as attention shifts to the general election.
"I think, at least I would hope, that Mr. Trump mellows out a little bit in subsequent months, and I think he will," said Rochester GOP Sen. Dave Senjem.
As for Drazkowski, he said he realizes that Trump may end up being the only option conservatives have because of the hope he will support at least some conservative principles. Still, he said the Republican party needs to do some serious soul searching about the future.
Drazkowski added, "I think us conservatives need to use these next four years to regroup and work to re-brand things."