Three prominent Republicans demanded Friday that GOP gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth withdraw before he drags the party's other candidates to defeat because of allegations that he swam with nude girls. The three included U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, who suddenly finds himself in a close race with Democratic challenger Paul Wellstone.
Grunseth called a news conference Thursday to announce he was quitting, but then changed his mind and wound up reaffirming his candidacy.
The allegations about Grunseth have hurt all Republicans campaigns, including his, Boschwitz said at a campaign stop Friday.
"It has an impact on dozens of people who are running," he said.
The two top Republicans in the Legislature also called for Grunseth to step aside, and one of them endorsed state Auditor Arne Carlson, who placed second to Grunseth in the Republican primary and on Monday launched a write-in campaign for governor.
Grunseth was thought to have a chance of unseating Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich until the nude-swimming allegations were leveled against him nearly two weeks ago.
In sworn statements, two young women said he encouraged them and two other teen-age girls to join him for a nude swim at a 1981 pool party. The women said he tried to pull down the swim suit of one of the girls and tried to touch her breast. Grunseth has denied the allegations.
Perpich, who is seeking a fourth term, maintained his silence on the Republicans' problems. His campaign manager said the governor was preparing for the race's only debate, which was scheduled for Friday night.
Elam Baer, executive director of the Grunseth campaign, said Friday there were no circumstances under which Grunseth would withdraw.
"Last night, we slammed the door shut, nailed a couple of spikes in it and locked the deadbolts and he is in this race until Nov. 6," Baer said.