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Stephen Lowell

A Republican-backed candidate for the Minnesota state Senate faced intense backlash and Democratic criticism after a video of him endorsing political violence in an unhinged speech surfaced on social media.

In the video, the candidate, Stephen Lowell, urged a crowd of his supporters at an event in July to get out and vote “before we have to vote with bullets.”

“We need to grow our teeth back. Fast,” Lowell told the crowd. “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. ... And so we have to bring back that faith, and we have to come out and vote.”

The incendiary comment prompted stern criticism from the chairman of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), Ken Martin, who called Lowell’s remarks “violent” and “dehumanizing.”

“Stephen Lowell’s violent, dehumanizing, and disturbing remarks embody the worst in our politics, and the Minnesota Republican Party should immediately begin the process of withdrawing their endorsement of him,” Martin said.

He called on the Minnesota Republican party to withdraw its endorsement of Lowell for the provocative comment to send a “strong signal” that violence had no place in its ranks.

“If Republican officials do not send a strong signal that this violent rhetoric will not be tolerated, they will bear responsibility for what follows as a result,” Martin added.

Lowell doubled down on his comments in the face of criticism, much like the self-proclaimed leader of the Republican party, former President Trump.

“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,” Lowell said in a tweet. He called his comments “a great ad-lib speech by a working-class American pushed to run for office because of horrible democrat leadership.”

In an interview, Lowell, a libertarian conservative, denied assertions that his comments called for violence.

“The purpose of the statement I made was the degree to which societies tend to degrade when people don’t have faith in the government in a very broad and general level,” Lowell said, referring to the French Revolution. “At the end of the day, the point is when people don’t feel like their government represents them, countries get very unstable.”

Lowell labeled the uproar over his comments a smear campaign and has insinuated taking legal action over the video of his comments on social media.

Lowell is running against Democratic Senator Jim Carlson, of Eagan, who was elected in 2006, in a majorly Democratic district.

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