Republicans Still Seeking US Senate Candidate

Updated: 05/31/2014 10:58 AM
Created: 05/30/2014 4:08 PM
By: Cassie Hart

Republicans have resumed their push to endorse a candidate in the race to unseat Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.          

After seven ballots that led to an overnight recess, delegates to the state GOP convention in Rochester returned to action. They were down to St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and investment banker Mike McFadden, who were dueling for the 60 percent needed for endorsement.       

Dahlberg, who emerged as a dark-horse, was looking to deny McFadden a smooth path to the November ballot. McFadden plans to run in an August primary no matter what. He scooped up the backing of retiring U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann early in the day.

The GOP Convention is in Rochester. Leaders are endorsing candidates for Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, and U.S. Senator.

U.S. Senate Endorsement

Dahlberg has stretched his lead in what has become a three-way race. After four ballots, Dahlberg had 44 percent of the state Republican convention vote, needing 60 percent to seal the deal. He was ahead of McFadden, who had 32 percent, and State Sen. Julianne Ortman at 23 percent.

If anyone other than McFadden wins, a spirited primary campaign could follow. He has said he will advance to August no matter what.

Franken will pick up his party's endorsement in Duluth on Saturday.

Minnesota Gov. Endorsement

In the race for governor, Kurt Zellers said he will not seek the GOP endorsement at the convention Saturday. He said he plans to head straight to the August primary. Zellers told KSTP reporter Tom Hauser, "out of respect for the process" he asked that his name not be entered for the endorsement.

Scott Honour is "seeking support of delegates," but he wouldn't say whether he's decided to seek endorsement. Honour, a former investment company executive, named State Sen. Karin Housley of St. Mary's Point for the lieutenant governor slot. Honour says she brings legislative experience to his campaign but not so much she is considered engrained in government.

Secretary of State Endorsement

Ex-Rep. Dan Severson grabbed the endorsement for secretary of state after another former lawmaker exited the race. State Sen. John Howe withdrew before the first ballot was announced.

Incumbent Secretary of State Mark Ritchie isn't running again.

Severson argues that Minnesota has a "corrupt election system" and told delegates it is "time for a conservative secretary of state."

The secretary of state's office has been pivotal in recent elections. It has overseen back-to-back recounts in races for U.S. Senate and governor. The office also has business registration duties.

Other Elections

State Sen. Scott Newman has been endorsed to challenge Lori Swanson for Attorney General. Randy Gilbert has been given the nod to run for state auditor. He’ll challenge Rebecca Otto this fall.

Democrats expect to settle on candidates Saturday at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention in Duluth, in a race that features two sitting legislators.

We'll have live coverage from both state political conventions this weekend. Tom Hauser is in Rochester with the GOP, and reporter Jay Kolls will be up in Duluth covering the DFL's convention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: KSTP/ Tom Hauser

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