David Hann is the current chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party. Previously, he served as a Minnesota state senator and an Eden Prairie School Board member. Hann and his wife have four grown children and have lived in Eden Prairie for almost 40 years. He is known for his soft-spoken demeanor, which differs from the bombast so often seen from politicians.
In a recent interview, Hann, 70, shared his thoughts on the 2022 election. He also provided insight on several other topics, including the role of financing in elections, the polarization of the abortion issue, and his perspective on the 2020 election.
The 2022 Election
GOP candidates did not do very well in Minnesota or Eden Prairie in 2022. The elections gave the Democrats control of both houses of the state Legislature and all of the statewide offices.
Hann admitted to being disappointed by the election results.
“It [the election]was a surprise, it was a surprise to everybody,” he said. “I talked to a lot of Democrats who fully expected the Republicans to do better than what we did. All the polling up until a week before the election showed the races were more competitive.
“The consensus of the polls we saw put our statewide candidates, all of them, within the margin of error and in some cases ahead of the Democrats in the statewide elections,” he continued. “When the results came in, two of the statewide races [attorney general and auditor]were close, and the other two [governor and secretary of state]were not.”
Hann identified several positive aspects of the election for state Republicans.
“When you look at this last election, 81 of the 87 counties in Minnesota saw an increase in Republican voters,” he said. “There were only six counties where you saw an increase in Democratic voters; now those were the most populous counties.”
Eden Prairie 2022 Election
The Eden Prairie election results were even more overwhelmingly one-sided.
All three Republican legislative candidates running in Eden Prairie lost to the Democratic incumbents.
Marla Helseth, the GOP candidate for State Senate District 49, lost by a margin of nearly 25% to Sen. Steve Cwodzinski. Ryan Chase, the GOP candidate for House District 49A, lost by a similar margin to Rep. Laurie Pryor. Thomas Knecht, the GOP candidate for House District 49B, lost by a margin of 15% to Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn.
As cities grow and urban areas expand, Hann said they tend to have higher percentages of Democratic votes.
“When I was elected in 2002 [to the state senate], we had Republicans representing Edina,” he said. “There is a progression around the country that as communities become more urbanized, they vote more Democratic.”
When asked about the poor showing in the western suburbs, Hann stated that the Republicans need to figure out how to appeal to independent voters.
According to the polls he and other Republicans saw, Hann said independent voters largely favor GOP views on crime, the economy, and education.
“Eden Prairie, like a lot of suburban districts, is moderate in its political views,” Hann said. “In the last few elections cycles the Democrats have been more successful in convincing the moderate voters.”
Hann explained that the two parties have had a financial disparity in the past two decades.
“As recently as 2000 the parties spent roughly equal amounts,” he said. “After that, the Democrats created a structure where they now spend five or six times as much money as Republicans. People accuse the Republicans of being the party of the wealthy. If you look at the amount of money raised and where it comes from you learn that really isn’t true.”
Hann emphasized that when analyzing financing, it is essential to consider the expenses of individual candidates and the overall spending for the entire election process. He noted that in the recent election, Democrats spent around $40 million, while the GOP spent $10 million.
“The GOP raises most of their money from smaller donations from individual donors,” he said. “It is the Democrats who are primarily benefiting from wealthy donors.”
He specifically named Alida Messinger, an heir to the Rockefeller fortune and the former spouse of Mark Dayton, who has donated millions of dollars every year to the DFL.
Abortion: The elephant in the room
Hann believes that abortion was the most significant issue in the 2022 election and that the DFL’s misrepresentation of the GOP’s position on abortion ultimately cost the GOP the election. Hann also asserts that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, who have politicized the abortion issue.
“Back in 1973 when the Roe v Wade was [decided]abortion stopped being a political issue,” Hanns said. “[After Roe v Wade], because nobody who is elected can change the law, it then became a constitutional issue and all anyone can say is whether they are for it or against it.”
He contends this led to polarization, more so with the Democrats than the Republicans.
“Before Roe v Wade there were many pro-life Democrats,” he said. “[Now] there are still pro-choice Republicans, but no pro-life Democrats.”
Hann believes that the DFL won the 2022 election in Minnesota by convincing the undecided voters that Republican candidates, particularly Scott Jensen, the GOP candidate for governor, would ban abortion.
He said that the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court case Doe v. Gomez established that abortion is a right protected by the Minnesota constitution, and therefore it is false to claim that any statewide elected official has the power to alter this law.
Hann also believes that the actual law in Minnesota is much more extreme than people realize. “[Doe v. Gomez] says that the right to an abortion in Minnesota is unrestricted up until the moment of birth, and it is paid for by taxpayers … to the vast majority of people that is an extreme position,” he said.
Hann said he approves of the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision and believes that abortion rights should be decided state-by-state.
“Now that the Dobbs decision says it is a matter for each legislature, the legislatures will decide the issue consistently with where the majority of people are,” he said. “I think that the majority of people around the county and in Minnesota think that there should be some restriction on abortion but not a total restriction.”
Secretary of state race, election fraud, Jan. 6 capital uprising and civil unrest in Minneapolis
When asked if the GOP candidate for secretary of state, Kim Crockett, who based her campaign on the belief that the 2020 presidential election was not fair, was electable, Hann replied, “she was nominated and endorsed by a convention, and a majority of the people at that convention wanted her to be the candidate, and she was unsuccessful.”
Does Hann think the 2020 election was stolen?
“I think every election has flaws, but no I don’t believe there was any conspiracy or stealing and I never have believed that,” he said.
Hann encouraged people to remember the events following the 2016 election. These events, according to Hann, included Hillary Clinton’s assertion that Trump had stolen the election and Democrats’ accusation that Trump had colluded with Russia to manipulate the outcome of the election.
“When the Democrats went down that path, that was fine,’ he said. “When the Republicans go down that path after 2020, everyone says, ‘Oh my gosh.’ My point is, why don’t you treat those issues as similar.”
Regarding the events of Jan. 6, Hann said, “People broke the law and are being prosecuted and we are 100% in favor of that. People who broke the law need to be prosecuted. But we had a week or more of riots in Minneapolis, where are the prosecutions for that? Where are the people being held accountable for that? Where is the concern about what drove that?”
From Hann’s perspective, the Democrats spread a three-part false narrative in the 2022 election, claiming that “Republicans are controlled by Donald Trump and do whatever” he says; “all Republicans believe the election was stolen and want to overthrow the government”; and, if elected, Republicans can “magically” alter the Minnesota constitution.
“Those three things were false, and the Democrats were able to promote that by spending way more money than the Republicans,” he said.
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