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Guess Where the Minneapolis Republican Party Just Held an Open House Fundraiser…

The party is eyeballing the office space above the notorious ol' Clubhouse Jager as a potential headquarters.

Minneapolis Republican Party|

Quite the choice for Saturday’s bash.

Shawn Holster is a politician. He knows the power of optics. And, with regard the newly formed Minneapolis Republican Party's first-ever "Rock’n Barbecue" location this past Saturday, the party chair says he's aware of the potentially damning PR implications: The old Clubhouse Jager building is still owned by Julius DeRoma, who gained local infamy after the reveal that he once donated to ex-Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke's failed 2016 U.S. Senate campaign.

"I was made aware of [the ownership] when I first came across that building; I started soliciting advice from those much older, wiser, and smarter than myself and we decided to go forward," says Holster, who lost by 71 points to 25-year-old DFL rival Zaynab Mohamed in last fall's District 63 Minnesota Senate race. "So I looked into the history, I did a lot of research into the background of one Mr. Julius DeRoma, and I had a number of very long discussions with the gentleman as well. And looking at it, yeah, sure as shit, [the Duke donation] was a dumb idea."

Holster views DeRoma as "a politically androgynous eccentric, whose motives I'm not even going to begin to guess," and concludes that the landlord's "very poor" decision to donate $500 to a former KKK leader "was not made from a point of racial, ethnic, or religious animus of any kind." Citing his own biracial marriage and work in 12-step recovery programs, Holster boasts of the "rainbow of representation in our organization," adding, reassuringly, "Our calendar doesn't include doing Klan shit anytime soon." (Holster's personal politics appear more pugnacious than hand-holdy, taking aim at "cancel culture," teachers, socialists, and the trans-rights movement.)

He says his group has no financial connections with the cash-strapped statewide GOP apparatus, the Republican Party of Minnesota, and that the decision to socialize at Jager was theirs alone. Presumably dozens of alternative locations existed, but the party ended up choosing one with recent "historical static" around it, as Holster puts it.

DeRoma's support for Duke, who remains a proud white supremacist and antisemite, was first scooped by City Pages in 2017. "Well, whatever...  it's just free speech," a shirtless, defiant DeRoma told WCCO-TV when confronted at his home that summer. "I don't care to talk to a skank like you over the phone," he'd later tell Racket's old colleague, Mike Mullen of CP, when pressed on his political contributions.

Jager employees walked out in protest that September, though DeRoma would briefly reopen the 117-year-old bar in early 2018—just in time for Super Bowl LII tourists. It didn't go well. Protesters splashed the brick façade with the projection of a swastika accompanied by the text "Nazi Pubs Fuck Off." Per county records, DeRoma still owns a large portfolio of Minneapolis properties near Lyn-Lake, including the addresses for Up-Down, Legacy Glassworks, Buffalo Exchange, and the former home to Huge Improv Theater. (That latter business cited its landlord's politics as the "catalyst" for a 2019 move.)

Billed as "our first fundraiser for our new office space," the $75 ($15 after mail-in rebate) Minneapolis Republican Party event at Jager featured BBQ, cash bar, live music, and speakers like 2022 GOP gubernatorial loser Scott Jensen, freshly announced Rep. Ilhan Omar challenger Dalia al-Aqidi, Minnesota Republican Party secretary Jenna Dicks, and state Sen. Calvin Bahr (R-East Bethel)—the famously topless Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway opponent.

Having formed from disparate geographic GOP coalitions in March, the Minneapolis Republican Party is a brand-new organization, hence the need for a headquarters. The Rock’n Barbecue invite teases the Jager event as an "open house," and includes interior photos of "this amazing upstairs office space (with cool old bar below) we plan to use for events, training, volunteer and candidate support."

Holster says no leases have been signed, however, and that his party remains "all eyes, all ears" open about the location of its future HQ.

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