ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Republicans meet Saturday to elect a new chairman during a difficult time for the party.

Party officials say the state GOP is nearly $1.3 million in debt — and legal expenses could bring that total to $2 million.

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Party Chairman Tony Sutton resigned Dec. 2 amid internal criticism of party finances. The GOP is due to elect a replacement Saturday when its Central Committee meets in St. Cloud.

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Besides Sutton’s resignation, the party has been rocked in recent weeks by a scandal involving Sen. Amy Koch, who resigned as majority leader and then acknowledged an improper relationship with a male staffer.

Candidates to lead the party include political consultant Pat Shortridge, businessman Todd McIntyre and Terry McCall, the party’s 2nd District chairman. Others could emerge at Saturday’s meeting.

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