The Potluck

Action 4 Liberty may be on the fringe of the GOP, but some of their candidates are getting endorsed

By: - March 30, 2022 2:21 pm

Mark Bishofsky — a respiratory therapist who says he was terminated for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccination — was endorsed by Republicans in a new House District 33B created by redistricting in Washington County. Screenshot from campaign video.

Right-wing, anti-vaxx, anti-mask, “stop-the-steal” candidates are shaking up a few local Republican conventions in Minnesota, though the establishment has come out on top in most.

At least eight people affiliated with the right-wing activist group Action 4 Liberty are running for governor or the Legislature, challenging what their leader calls “weak and feckless” Republicans. 

And some are winning: Republican state Sen. Eric Pratt lost to newcomer and “pro-health freedom” nurse Natalie Barnes at the Saturday endorsing convention for newly drawn Senate District 54. 

Tom Dippel, another Action 4 Liberty candidate, was endorsed over state Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, in new Senate District 41.

Action 4 Liberty President Jake Duesenberg celebrated those endorsements as wins against “liberal” RINOs (Republican In Name Only). 

And, earlier this month, Mark Bishofsky, a respiratory therapist who says he was terminated for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccination, was endorsed by Republicans in new House District 33B created by redistricting in Washington County. 

Bishofsky defeated a St. Paul police commander and Stillwater School Board member for the Republican endorsement.

Bishofsky started a “health freedom group” called Stop the Mandate and led a march to the governor’s mansion that he said drew thousands of people. 

On his campaign website, Bishofsky said he never wanted to be a politician but felt called to run for office after organizing rallies and protests.

During his convention speech, Bishofsky said he gave up his 22-year career rather than get vaccinated; fought to get Ivermectin to patients; decried masks as “face muzzles”; and castigated what he called the “radical, woke left agenda” and Gov. Tim Walz’s “tyranny,” which he defined as shutting down businesses and forcing people to wear masks. 

In the same district, incumbent GOP Sen. Karin Housley fended off a challenge by conservative activist Monti Moreno. Action 4 Liberty celebrated the fact that it took three rounds of balloting before Housley mustered 60% support.  

Meanwhile, Rep. Erik Mortensen, a hero of Action 4 Liberty, failed to win the endorsement for House District 54A during the March 4 GOP convention. Neither Mortensen nor former Rep. Bob Loonan was endorsed and will duke it out in a primary for the third time.  

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.