State House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Thursday he is supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for president, and will chair the Republican's campaign in Minnesota.
"He's done some brave reforms in Wisconsin, and he won three elections in four years in a state that frankly, like Minnesota, leans blue," Daudt told the Star Tribune, referring to Walker's election, re-election and victory in a recall election. "He's a bold leader."
Daudt made his comments at O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul, where he was watching the first major Republican presidential debate at an evening event sponsored by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition. He said the Walker campaign would officially announce on Friday morning that Daudt will be its state chairman in Minnesota.
While he had been vacillating between Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Daudt said the Wisconsin governor sealed the deal in a telephone call last week.
"He asked me for my support, and I said yes," Daudt said.
Minnesota's presidential caucus is set for next March 1, earlier than in previous presidential years. State Republicans are hopeful that will give the 17 Republican presidential candidates more incentive to campaign for Minnesota support.
Daudt said his own top political priority next year would be holding the Republican majority in the state House. But, with no statewide races in Minnesota next year other than the presidential election, he said whoever the GOP picks as its candidate would likely have outsize influence down the ballot.
"Being the governor of a neighboring state, I think Walker has a lot of potential to get Republicans enthusiastic about the election," Daudt said.
Other Republican candidates have also started to organize in Minnesota. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the GOP candidate for governor last year, has been tapped as state chairman for Rubio. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has also started to line up Minnesota supporters.
Minnesota's top three elected Democrats - Gov. Mark Dayton and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken - all support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.