Mike Osskopp, Former District Director for Congressman John Kline, now finds himself only one of two declared candidates for Minnesota Republican Party Chair.
The position became vacant recently when Chair Tony Sutton suddenly resigned. Party leaders were backing Eden Prairie businessman Brandon Sawalich until he abruptly pulled out of the race on Friday after being arrested for not paying the taxes on his car.
The other candidate is the relatively unknown Todd McIntyre.
Republicans appear not to be satisfied with Osskopp and his relatively unknown opponent. Draft movements for several candidates including activist Sue Jeffers and acting party chair Kelly Fenton have already popped up on Facebook.
One reason may be the baggage Osskopp carries in his past.
During Osskopp’s tenure in Kline’s office he had to apologize for the tactics he used in tangling with supporters of Kline’s political opponents. Osskopp once stood in the parking lot of a rally for DFL candidate Coleen Rowley and yelled racial slurs at cars, apparently trying to drive people away from attending the rally.
“Another Jap car? Sure enough another Jap car!” Osskopp was heard to say on the video recorded in 2006. He was aware that he was being recorded. “Your buddies are supporting all these Jap and German cars!” he yelled to the camera pointed at him.
Condemnation from Asian community and Congressman Kline
Osskopp’s comments were condemned by the Asian American Journalists Association and Congressman Kline himself.
Congressman Kline called Osskopp’s racial slur “unacceptable”, but did not ask for his resignation. Osskopp issued an apology for what he said.
“I apologize if my words offended any Americans of Japanese descent, including my sister-in-law,” Osskopp said. “I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and used a phrase commonly used in my youth, but which is now inappropriate and offensive.”
“That’s unacceptable now,” Kline said. “We’ve all seen the John Wayne movies about World War II, and then it was acceptable. Now it’s not, and [Osskopp] knows that.”
Minnesota Republicans will be choosing their new chair during a New Year’s Eve meeting in St. Cloud.