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Former President Donald Trump's visit to Minnesota is energizing Republicans as they prepare to battle for control of the state House in November.

They're hoping Trump's presence on the ticket, and his reported focus on winning Minnesota, will help them pick up House seats in rural areas and possibly some blue-collar suburbs — even though the former president hasn't provided a clear boost for down-ballot candidates in the past.

Republicans gained seats in the Minnesota House in 2016 and 2020, but they did so by outperforming Trump by about 3 to 5 percentage points. And they lost a state Senate seat four years ago.

Republicans say they don't need the presumptive GOP nominee to carry the state; they just need him to do better than he did in 2020, when he lost Minnesota by about 7 percentage points.

"Trump doesn't have to win Minnesota for Republicans in the House to be in the majority," said former GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who led House Republicans' campaign efforts in 2016 and 2020. "If he only loses Minnesota by three or four points, it's likely House Republicans have a majority."

Republicans must gain four seats in the House to win the majority in November and end the DFL's trifecta control of state government.

Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin said he believes Trump will be a liability for Republicans in competitive swing districts. The evidence points toward the former president being a drag on the ticket, he said, since legislative candidates generally outperformed him both times he was on the ballot.

"The more that these Republicans, particularly these Republicans in swing legislative districts ... continue to hitch their horse to his wagon, the more vulnerable they are," Martin said.

Donations have poured in for the DFL since the Minnesota GOP announced Trump would headline its fundraising dinner on Friday night. Martin said the DFL has raised well over $100,000 since last week.

Minnesota GOP leaders wouldn't say whether their fundraising has ramped up since they announced Trump's visit.

But GOP Chair David Hann said Friday's event presents a big fundraising opportunity for the state party. The state GOP has struggled to dig itself out of debt over the past year, reporting a debt balance of about $292,000 as of March 31, according to its federal campaign finance report.

Hann said he believes President Joe Biden's unpopularity may drag down Democrats in November. And he said the DFL-controlled Legislature has given Minnesotans more reason to vote Republican, citing policy proposals that have prompted rideshare giants Uber and Lyft to threaten to leave the state.

"I think Republicans are going to have a good year," Hann said. "I think there is a lot of dissatisfaction with what Democrats are doing in Minnesota."

House Republicans are bullish about their chances to gain seats on the Iron Range, in the St. Peter-North Mankato area and in Winona. They're also targeting DFL-held seats in St. Cloud, Northfield and Coon Rapids. Trump was competitive in each of these areas in 2020.

GOP House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said she thinks Trump's effect on down-ballot candidates "plays different in each part of the state."

"We've been very intentional about finding great candidates that are well-known in their districts that represent Minnesota well, and that's our focus as we look toward November," Demuth said.

Democrats are looking to pick up suburban House seats in Hastings and Lake Elmo, where Republican incumbents aren't running for re-election. And they're eyeing GOP-held seats in St. Cloud and northern Minnesota.

Todd Rapp, a former DFL legislative staffer and campaign operative, said Trump could boost Republican candidates in close rural districts where Democrats hold seats. But it's more likely the former president will galvanize voters in suburban swing districts to turn out for Democrats, he said.

"It's been three and a half years since he was president, some of the memories fade a little, they get fuzzier. You get so focused on the current administration," Rapp said. "But if he comes in and gives one of his traditional speeches, he might take those suburban swing voters and remind them of how they really don't like and don't trust Donald Trump."

In an interview with a conservative news outlet this week, Trump described Minnesota as being "out of control." He suggested Minneapolis would have "burned down to the ground" in 2020 if not for him, and he called for "mass deportations" to address illegal immigration.

Kevin Parsneau, a political science professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato, said visits by either Trump or Biden could motivate voters. He said Trump's early stop in the state may be an indicator that he sees Minnesota as a "borderline battleground state, or at least something he makes Biden want to defend."

Those kinds of trips could affect close races in the Legislature or Congress, such as Minnesota's competitive Second District, where DFL Rep. Angie Craig is fighting to keep her seat, Parsneau said.

"If you think you can win it on the margins, you do it," he said. "That is bound to have some effects on some close races one way or another."

Parsneau said Trump supporters seem to be more energized at this point in the race than Democrats supporting Biden, who is treading lightly on issues such as the war in Gaza.

"There are marginal districts in Minnesota, and if Biden supporters in those areas just don't turn out, that could hurt them in those races," he said.