Herald JournalHerald and Journal, Oct. 28, 2002

Republicans still struggling with 19B candidate issue

By Lynda Jensen

In a change of direction, the Wright County Republicans attempted to back away Tuesday from its withdrawal of support for candidate Dick Borrell of Waverly in the race for District 19B.

The withdrawal occurred following news coverage about a sex incident 15 years ago associated with Borrell.

Borrell refused to drop out of the race as requested ­ which caused problems for many local Republicans in the party, who could not choose a different candidate because of the way that the endorsement process is designed and the time element.

In the meantime, a write-in campaign was launched for Republican Darren Knight of Delano, backed by some Republicans, including State Rep. Bruce Anderson-(R) of Buffalo. Anderson currently represents District 19B, and is running for District 19A this year because of redistricting.

Both Borrell and Knight are Republicans, and are against DFLer Lori Schmidt of Otsego in the race for state representative for District 19B.

During a committee meeting Tuesday, Wright County Republicans reaffirmed its endorsement of Borrell, and "did not support, nor endorse, Darren Knight's write-in campaign," according to a statement.

Republican Chairman Randy Heuer made it clear that Borrell continues to be the endorsed candidate.

This drew an angry response from Anderson, who said the committee's actions were based out of fear of litigation and retaliation.

"For the committee to withdraw support, than to cower away from the question of endorsement and leave Republicans in Wright County wondering what we have done, is unprecedented and ridiculous," Anderson said.

In addition, the Wright County Republicans release contained the following information:

"Before adjourning, State Representative and Committee Member Bruce Anderson agreed that he would no longer actively campaign or publicly support a write-in campaign by Darren Knight" ­ which Anderson called a lie.

"I did not change my support from Mr. Knight to Mr. Borrell," Anderson wrote in a letter (see Viewpoints).

"Any news report that refers to me as a Borrell supporter will be false. Any mention of a withdrawal of support for the Knight campaign by myself will be false," Anderson said.

The situation started when the Star Tribune printed a story Oct. 5 about sexual misconduct by Borrell in 1987.

The article detailed an incident, in which Borrell admitted to tricking a woman into a sexual act by trespassing into her apartment bedroom in the early morning hours following a night of heavy drinking, according to court documents.

The woman sought counseling and filed suit in 1993. Borrell paid her $20,000 in a settlement for "negligent infliction of emotional distress."

District 19B encompasses the townships of Victor, Woodland, and Rockford as well as the cities of Waverly and Montrose.

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