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Meet the Minnesota GOP's next leader, Jennifer Carnahan

She defeated three others, including the party's deputy chair.

The Republican Party of Minnesota elected its next party chair Saturday at the annual State Central Committee Meeting in St. Cloud.

The new state party leader will be Jennifer Carnahan.

She was up against three others: current Deputy Chair Chris Fields, former state Senate Minority Leader David Hann, and party committee member Rick Rice.

The currant chair, Keith Downey, announced in December he would not seek a third term. He has been the Minnesota Republican Party's leader for four years.

There were several rounds of voting – each time, one candidate was removed. The Pioneer Press says she actually came in at third place in the first round of voting. But with each ballot, Carnahan picked up more supporters. It ultimately came down to Carnahan and Deputy Chair Fields. She won with 58 percent.

“If people see that we’re the party where someone like myself came in like an activist just a year ago … how does that not inspire more people to get involved?” Carnahan said after her win, the paper reports.

The new deputy chair will be David Pascoe.

About Jennifer Carnahan

The new party chair grew up in Maple Grove and graduated from Osseo Senior High School. She has degrees from Syracuse University and the Carlson School of Management.

Carnahan went on to work for the Minnesota Timberwolves and several Fortune 500 companies, including McDonald's Corporation, General Mills, Ecolab and Swarovski.

Then in 2014, she decided to start her own business – Primrose Park. It's a specialty women's retailer in Minneapolis.

Carnahan promises she'll stick to her conservative values. The chair says she's been a Republican her whole life because of "the party's commitment to responsibility and entrepreneurship."

"I'm not afraid to stand up and speak out about the policies and the individuals on the other side," she said following the election.

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