ROCHESTER — Political newcomer Jim Schultz has won the Minnesota Republican Party endorsement at the state party convention in Rochester, besting four other candidates vying for delegates’ support.
Schultz received the nomination after several rounds of voting. He was endorsed by the entire convention after MyPillow attorney and 2018 attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow conceded in the contest. Many delegates expressed surprise at the results, as Wardlow appeared to be the favorite in early voting, but he received a major boost after former judge Tad Jude withdrew from the contest and endorsed Schultz.
The 36-year-old attorney describes himself as a political outsider and law and order candidate. In his acceptance speech, Schultz criticized incumbent Democratic-Farmer-Labor Attorney General Keith Ellison’s handling of the rise of violent crime in the state. He said he would take a “sledgehammer” to the attorney general’s office to bring about change.
In convention speeches he endorsed voter identification laws and railed against critical race theory, transgender women competing in women’s sports, and what he called “militant far-left secularism antithetical to what America is.”
Schultz would not tell reporters at the convention if he would support a total ban on abortion, saying his job was not to legislate but to enforce laws. He has previously said he opposes abortion.
Like the other Republican candidates for attorney general, Schultz has opposed proof of COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirements, describing them as “unfair and foolish” and bad for small businesses. He also spoke out against Gov. Tim Walz’s 2020 emergency business shutdown order.
“The government has no right to shut down small businesses and churches and leave Walmart open down the street,” he said in one of his convention speeches. Schultz has previously said he and his wife are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Four of the five Republican candidates for attorney general sought the endorsement at the convention: Schultz, Wardlow, Jude and attorney Lynne Torgerson. Candidate Dennis Smith was not seeking the convention endorsement. The Minnesota GOP disqualified Torgerson from endorsement but didn’t say why.
Schultz got a significant boost in voting after receiving an endorsement from former Stillwater judge Jude, who withdrew his attorney general endorsement bid at the convention.
In a speech before the final endorsement vote, Wardlow touted his experience in politics and as an attorney, saying Schultz did not have enough time campaigning or in a courtroom to effectively advocate for conservative ideals. Ultimately delegates did not buy his appeal and instead opted to support a new face.
It was not immediately clear if Wardlow had dropped out of the race after conceding to Schultz. Republicans in Minnesota typically honor their party’s endorsement.
The primary election that will confirm the Republican who will appear on the ballot in November is on Aug. 9.
Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin questioned Schultz’s experience in a statement issued immediately after the endorsement.
“Jim Schultz is a hedge-fund lawyer with no experience in a Minnesota courtroom,” he said. “The last thing we want is someone like that taking a sledgehammer to the Attorney General’s office. Instead of focusing on the issues important to the people of Minnesota.”
Schultz attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, graduated from Harvard Law School and returned to Minnesota to practice law in the private sector. He lives in the western Twin Cities metro area with his wife and three children.