Thousands of Republicans from across Minnesota are converging on Rochester this weekend for their party’s state convention. Today’s (FRI) main order of business will be choosing a candidate for US Senate. There are four main contenders: Jim Abeler, Chris Dahlberg, Mike McFadden and Julianne Ortman. State Senator Ortman, from Chanhassen, led by a wide margin in a straw poll at February’s precinct caucuses. GOP Senator Scott Newman of Hutchinson has announced that he is running for Minnesota attorney general as well, and will be seeking his party’s endorsement at the convention. He hopes to challenge two-term incumbent DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson in November. The last Republican elected Attorney General in Minnesota was Doug Head in 1966.
While Republicans prepare to endorse a candidate for US Senate later today, the 6 hopefuls for the GOP nod for Minnesota governor are working the delegates before the endorsement vote set for Saturday. Former State Representative and Springfield native Marty Seifert says he was in first place at February’s precinct caucuses, and at the caucuses four years ago. State Senator Dave Thompson was only slightly behind Seifert in the straw poll. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Wayzata businessman Scott Honour and State Representative Kurt Zellers were significantly further back.
Minnesota Democrats are arriving in Duluth today for their state convention this weekend also. There’s far less drama for the DFL with mostly incumbents on the statewide ticket. Party Chairman Ken Martin says the 1,400 delegates are enthusiastic about this year’s convention. He says the DFL is in a great position to win re-election “not just because of the field on the other side, but frankly because we have in both Governor Dayton and Senator Franken two people who’ve done a great job of standing up for the middle class and Minnesotans.” State Representatives Deb Hilstrom and Steve Simon are competing for the DFL nomination for secretary of state. Martin says both candidates have pledged to abide by the party’s endorsement.