The Potluck

Influential police group endorses state Sen. Paul Gazelka for governor

By: - April 11, 2022 3:19 pm

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer.

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association announced an endorsement Monday of state Sen. Paul Gazelka for governor.

“He is an extraordinary supporter of first responders and public safety officials and stands against attempts to defund and dismantle the police,” said Brian Peters, the executive director of the MPPOA, said in a statement. “He will always promote public safety proposals that keep communities safe.”

Gazelka, an East Gull Lake Republican, said in a statement that police “deserve our gratitude. I will always make sure they have the support, resources, and policies that provide for a safer, stronger community for everyone.” MPPOA named him their legislator of the year in 2020.

Gazelka, who stepped down as GOP majority leader to focus his efforts on the campaign for governor, is running behind former state Sen. Scott Jensen in money and social media buzz, but the police endorsement may be a sign of institutional strength going into the heat of the GOP convention season.

The police endorsement of Gazelka is a blow to former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, whose candidacy would seem to rely on a strong law-and-order message.

Crime and safety figure to play prominently in the upcoming election, with Republicans looking to highlight rising crime rates of the past two years and failed efforts by some Minneapolis progressives to defund/abolish the police.

Both parties once competed hard for police endorsements. Former DFL Gov. Mark Dayton received an important lift to his flagging 2010 campaign from the MPPOA endorsement.

The police murder of George Floyd and the resulting unrest and fallout have turned large parts of the DFL base against the police.

Even before Floyd’s murder, the police were becoming more politically polarizing — Minneapolis residents were incensed that Bob Kroll, who at the time was president of the local police union, stood on a Minneapolis stage with former President Donald Trump.

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children