After a seemingly endless day of politicking and ballot-casting in the 1st District, Republicans are no closer to finding a nominee to challenge Tim Walz in November.
Party delegates met Saturday to nominate a candidate to take on the third-term Democrat, but after more than 14 hours and 23 ballots, activists could not coalesce behind either state Sen. Mike Parry or activist Allen Quist. To win the nomination, a candidate needed to receive 60 percent of the vote, but neither ever got close — on the last ballot of the night, Quist led with 52 percent of the vote.
The endorsement race was always expected to be a close one, but perhaps not this close. Just before 2 a.m., delegates approved a motion to call a new convention within the next few weeks to eventually decide a winner.
Here’s the play-by-play, from the Rochester Post-Bulletin:
At first, Parry, a state senator from Waseca, appeared to have the advantage. He led Quist by 19 votes on the first ballot. But as the evening wore on, Parry’s lead eroded. After 10 hours and 15 ballots, Quist took the lead and held it. The swing in support came after the former state representative from St. Peter challenged Parry to a debate where each candidate asked each other five questions. Parry declined.
Quist asked the delegates, “Why would you want to endorse a candidate to debate Tim Walz when that candidate is afraid to debate Allen Quist?”
Parry responded that the focus needs to be on beating Walz. He took Quist to task for waving list of questions in front of stage while he was addressing the delegates.
“I would never in my wildest dreams thought about disrespecting a candidate up on the stage,” he said. “We need to come together, we need to rally together.”
Saturday’s long (and still unresolved) proceedings have already made political history: delegates told the Post-Bulletin it was the longest nomination fight in the 1st District since 1982, and it surpassed those for the Republican nomination for governor in 2002 (12 ballots between Tim Pawlenty and Brian Sullivan) and for U.S. Senate in 1996 (14 ballots between Rudy Boschwitz and Bert McKasy).
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry