A Republican-backed candidate for the Minnesota Senate has been criticized by Democrats after footage showed him talking about the need for “voting with the ballot before we have to vote with bullets.”
The footage of Stephen Lowell, who is running for Senate District 52, was captured on July 30 at the Dakota County Patriots Summer Block Party in Rosemount. It was originally posted to Lowell’s Facebook page after the event, but didn’t receive widespread attention until it was posted to Twitter by journalist Aaron Rupar on August 18.
In the video, Lowell criticizes lockdowns in place during the pandemic and urges people not to forget the “damage” done to the district. “We need to grow our teeth back, fast,” Lowell says. “So, part of those teeth, in this particular set of terms, is voting with the ballot before we have to vote with bullets.
“Because at the end of the day, when people don’t believe that their elections are stable, they don’t believe that police will protect them, they stop using the democratic, of any kind, method.”
He goes on to say, "People stop using that particular method when it looks like it’s too corrupt to work. If it’s too corrupt to work, nobody wants to participate. Who wants to participate in a game that seems like you’re just going to lose it? And so we have to bring back that faith, and we have to come out and vote.
“We have to vote just like they’re throwing Molotovs in Uptown. We have to vote just like they burned down buildings for four weeks straight,” Lowell says, and says he “strapped on a rifle” to protect a tobacco business during violent protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
The comments were criticized by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), who said it amounted to “a Republican-backed candidate threatening to murder his political opponents.”
After the video was widely shared online, Lowell retweeted the footage posted by journalist Aaron Rupar and said: “Absolutely. If you’re honest (not that I expect it) you’ll note that in countries where they cannot agree on elections the populace tends to devolve into violence. Do you not support free and fair elections?”
Lowell is running against Democratic state Senator Jim Carlson, who was first elected in 2006. Credit: Stephen for Senate via Storyful