Jay Duggan July 14, 2022

The Republican Party in Minnesota’s Senate District 23 (Mower, Freeborn, and parts of surrounding counties) is fixing to give away a state senate seat to the DFL?

(Senator Gene Dornink – official senate photo)

First term Senator, Gene Dornink, has been endorsed to be the Republican senate candidate for the newly redrawn Senate District 23 surrounding Austin and Albert Lea. Gene won the district area in 2020 to be the first Republican in a generation to do so. Only problem is when the district lines were redrawn this year, to comply with the US Census and Minnesota redistricting, Gene’s residence of 20 years in Hayfield for his family of 5 was not included within the boundaries.

Gene’s declared for the redrawn district, first telling the news he was moving to Glenville within the new boundaries, but never moved into the unfinished house and instead filed his official election candidacy at the address of a recently purchased 2 bedroom estate home in Brownsdale. Election law in Minnesota declares a state legislator must be a resident of a district 6 months prior to election day, which would require permanent residence in the district about May 8th for the 2022 election.

Gene Dornink’s compliance with the election residency law has come under scrutiny because he managed to piss off fellow Republicans in the party endorsing process. Hayward businesswoman and conservative activist Lisa Hanson filed as a Republican to unseat Gene Dornink. Lisa faulted Gene for refusing any effort as a Senator to defend Lisa and other business owners that suffered penalties and/or prosecution for defying Governor Walz’s COVID business shutdowns. To eliminate Lisa as a choice for the Republican senate endorsement and hand the endorsement to Gene the local party declared Lisa Hanson a “criminal” for defying Walz shutdown orders and disqualified her for endorsement. Feeling cheated out of a fair hearing in the party Lisa filed for the primary, and to counter her candidacy Gene and the local party officials continued to smear her as a “criminal” to party voters. A Lisa Hanson supporter, Judy Olson, that had heard Gene was not occupying his property in Brownsdale and possibly violating election residency statute decided she had enough of the hypocrisy of in June. Judy started documenting daily visits and inquiries to the Dornink Brownsdale house. Judy attests her documented visits and inquires showed no signs of occupancy daily for several weeks in a row, interviews with Brownsdale neighbors stating that the place was never occupied, evidence there was no tv, phone, internet, or garbage service to the house, and county records showing Gene had not filed to homestead the house. Judy also attached evidence that many visits and visible signs pointed to Gene still permanently occupying and residing in his Hayfield home outside the new district.

Judy Olson filed an election complaint with Minnesota Secretary of State Office using the Minnesota State Election Law Complaint Form, attached her documented evidence and accuses Gene Dornink of violating the 6 month election residency requirement to stand for office. Rocks & Cows has attached her complaint and attached claims and evidence below.

The Secretary of State told Judy Olson she must file her complaint directly with The Minnesota Supreme Court. In addition to forwarding the complaint to the court she send a copy of the complaint to Rocks & Cows to see if we had an opinion if it was of public interest. Of course the filed complaint is of public interest. If Gene Dornink is disqualified by the court after winning a primary the DFL candidate runs unopposed for MN Senate District 23 and wins, possibly giving the crazy shutdown, mask mandate, school CRT, no bail and no jail DFL a Senate majority. It is also possible courts could order a special election. Rocks & Cows made inquiries to friends and associates in and around Brownsdale. We did not receive any new and unique information, but the reports back mirrored Judy’s observations and inquiries. Reports and opinions that the Dorninks didn’t live in Brownsdale. The most interesting information returned as a result of our inquiry was a fact that should concern all Senate 23 Republican voters. Several folks said Judy and Rocks & Cows were not the only people that had made these series of inquiries, and that several others that had made those inquiries were known to be DFL voters.

Doesn’t look good for the home team. Judy Olson seems to have credible evidence Gene Dornink did not reside within Senate District 23 by the May 8th deadline or during the month after that, Rocks & Cows heard back similar accounts mirroring Judy’s observations, and it appears the local DFL is also inquiring about facts that could strike Gene from the ballot. We can also guess in today’s political world that somebody from the Secretary of State Office was kind enough to forward the DFL a copy of the filed complaint weeks ago. The Minnesota State Supreme Court is going to get the complaint and we shall wait to see what their ruling is. If the Brownsdale house has a municipal water bill showing the court little or no use in May and June going into July, Gene Dornink may yet have Senate 23 voters watching the DFL win unopposed or being forced into a redo special election next year.

Could it really happen? The Minnesota Supreme Court removed Republican House Rep. Bob Barrett from the ballot in 2016, with almost identical evidence and circumstances of two properties and only checking in for mail and changing clothes at the district “residence”. In Walz’s “One Minnesota” full of DFL appointed judges that had no problem rewriting election law and jailing folks like Lisa Hanson for selling food in a shutdown, its not very hard to imagine a bad outcome for a Republican senator during a battle for the Senate majority.