Minnesota Republicans were gathering today (SAT) to discuss next year’s elections, and to pick their favorites for governor and US Senate in straw polls. The GOP straw polls are non-binding, but they do give insiders an early barometer on candidates seeking the party nomination. The gubernatorial hopefuls are State Representative Kurt Zellers, Senator Dave Thompson, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Businessman Scott Honour and Hibbing Teacher Rob Farnsworth. There’s also a write-in campaign for former State Representative Marty Seifert. In the US Senate straw poll, Republicans have State Senator Julianne Ortman, State Representative Jim Abeler, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and Businessman Mike McFadden. Past straw poll winners have been overtaken by rivals as the race wore on, but a poor finish can be devastating to a campaign because donors and volunteers tend to align with candidates who have a legitimate shot.