Eichorn, Davis earn local GOP endorsements

Eichorn, 37, is a two-term senator first elected in 2016. He serves as the chair of the Mining and Forestry Policy Committee and vice chair of the Education Finance and Policy Committee. Davis is currently lead pastor at Remnant Ministry Center in Brainerd.

State Sen. Justin Eichorn and GOP candidate Ben Davis
State Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, and Ben Davis each earned the Republican Party endorsement for 2022 state Legislature bids.

REMER — Local Republican delegates came together Saturday, April 2, to decide the endorsement battle between two sitting state senators and a three-way race for a House district with no seated representative.

State Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, who currently represents Senate District 5, earned the endorsement over state Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, currently of District 10. The two senators were seated in the same new Senate District 6 following the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. The new Senate District 6 includes the cities of Grand Rapids and Brainerd along with other parts of Itasca, Cass and Crow Wing counties.

Also endorsed at the convention at Remer High School was Ben Davis, who earned the nod over fellow Republicans David Liedl and Dr. John Howe in pursuit of the House District 6A seat. District 6A includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Cohasset, Garrison, Crosby, Ironton, Deerwood, Crosslake, Emily, Remer and a small portion of Brainerd.

Both of the contests were settled in one round, according to Forest Hyatt, chair of the Crow Wing County Republicans, with Eichorn earning 76.1% of the delegate vote and Davis earning just over 60%, the threshold required for a candidate to earn the endorsement.

Senate raceEichorn, 37, is a two-term senator first elected in 2016. He serves as the chair of the Mining and Forestry Policy Committee and vice chair of the Education Finance and Policy Committee.


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“I would like to express my gratitude to the Republican activists of Senate District 6 with a resounding endorsement of 76.1% on the first ballot at our endorsing convention in Remer,” a Facebook post on Eichorn’s campaign page stated. “I look forward to teaming up with both House members to work together as your legislative team to give you the best possible representation! Thank you for your support and I look forward to fighting for you in Saint Paul for another 4 years!”

Ruud, 71, has served in the state Senate for two stints: 2003-06 and 2013 to present. She is the chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee and the vice chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.

In February, Ruud expressed disappointment at Eichorn’s announcement that he would run in the new district and noted her seniority is an asset to the lakes area. Although she did not earn the endorsement, Ruud could still challenge Eichorn in the primary election in August to earn a place on the general election ballot.

Neither Ruud nor Eichorn returned requests for comment Monday night.

House raceTop vote-getter Davis is currently lead pastor at Remnant Ministry Center in Brainerd. In his campaign announcement, Davis described himself as pro-life and said he’s been advocating for issues involving election integrity, medical freedom and constitutional rights.

Among those advocacy efforts were multiple appearances at Crow Wing County Board meetings in the fall and winter pushing commissioners to conduct a forensic audit of the 2020 election results in the county.

Davis did not return a request for comment Monday but sent a news release Wednesday morning.


"I want to express my sincere thanks to all of the delegates and alternates who participated, and extend my appreciation to David Liedl and John Howe for a spirited race," Davis stated in the release. "As your next State Representative, I will always fight for the rights of Minnesotans, our Constitution, and the unborn. I look forward to representing all of the people living in Minnesota House District 06A, and to meeting voters across this new district as the campaign continues in the weeks and months ahead."

Howe and Liedl both described themselves as businessmen in their campaign announcements.

Howe of Grand Rapids is a retired veterinary practice owner who has served on a number of state boards and other associations, including as past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, past president of the Minnesota Veterinary Association, two terms on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and on the Agriculture Advisory Committee for U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach.

Howe said his run for the office is over without the endorsement and said all three candidates agreed to abide by the endorsing process.

“They were obviously looking for somebody younger and … they weren’t looking for experience,” Howe said during a phone interview Monday, citing his experience as an association president as well as appearances on Fox News. “ … They were looking for kind of a — and I support Donald Trump — but they were looking for, I don’t know, just somebody more vocal.”

Liedl of Pequot Lakes is the owner-operator of Culver’s restaurants in Baxter and Bemidji and is managing director of Woods to Water Vacation Homes. He previously served as a state delegate and executive board treasurer of the Crow Wing County Republican Party.

“Friends - last night we didn’t get the outcome we were hoping for BUT I am proud of the campaign we ran for and values we stood for,” a Facebook post on Liedl’s profile stated. “I am so grateful for the support and encouragement we received throughout the last four weeks, especially from my wife Cassie Liedl who was by my side through it all. I couldn’t ask for a better partner and teammate in life.”


Liedl did not return a request for comment Monday.

UPDATE: This story was updated to include comments from a news release submitted by Ben Davis.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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