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Likely early front-runners in GOP race for governor, U.S. Senate

Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson

This is the first of a regular MinnPost feature called Party Politics providing news and analysis about Minnesota’s political parties and the parties’ leaders, candidates and supporters.

For those interested in political inside baseball, the best game in town right now takes place Saturday as delegates to the Minnesota Republican Party’s state central committee take a straw poll to indicate the party’s preference for candidates for U.S. senator and governor.

The poll is not binding, of course, and based on earlier straw polls, not even predictive of what Republican delegates will decide in 2014 at their state convention. But it can be a determinant of the weakest candidates in the field, at least from the perspective of Republican activists.

This is retail politics. The candidates must court individually the members of the state central committee and their alternates, a time-consuming task.  Hennepin County Commissioner and Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson is considered the front-runner to win the gubernatorial straw poll, based on his familiarity with the membership. On the Senate side, state Sen. Julianne Ortman and businessman Mike McFadden appear to have equal footing.

Michael Brodkorb, former deputy chair of the state GOP, provides an unvarnished analysis of the strengths and weakness of the candidates on his blog.

As many as 1,000 delegates and alternates could be present at the meeting in Blaine, making for a long day since the ballots are counted by hand.

While the straw poll will be the highlight of the day, the media invitation to the meeting hints that party Chair Keith Downey hopes to signal a new era for the party, still weighted with debt and election losses.

“With renewed purpose and positive progress to report,” Downey welcomed the media to observe “the new-look Republican party leadership.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Roy Everson on 10/25/2013 - 10:20 am.

    Some really helpful advice

    Here’s a novel idea: instead of the no-tax pledge they are so fond of supporting and then later find their hands tied, how about a pledge to support the American way of self-rule. In other words, unlike their national party the MN GOP could make itself unique around the country by pledging to abide by the results of democratic elections, instead of trying to nullify them through threats and hostage taking, as their national counterparts are so intent on doing.

    The state GOP could generate some good PR if it distanced itself from the likes of Boehner, Bachmann and their cohorts who detest so much the system they are sworn to defend.

  2. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/25/2013 - 10:21 am.

    This morning, Mr. Brodkorb made his predictions

    for the straw poll. They are:


    1. Jeff Johnson
    2. Dave Thompson
    3. Kurt Zellers
    4. Marty Seifert – write in
    5. Scott Honour
    6. Rob Farnsworth

    U.S. Senate

    1. Julianne Ortman
    2. Mike McFadden
    3. Chris Dahlberg
    4. Harold Shudlick
    5. Jim Abeler
    6. Monti Moreno


    Given the composition of delegates and alternates, these seem reasonable, although winning a straw poll like this doesn’t mean much – just ask Michelle Bachmann.

    Final nominees will be Scott Honour for Governor and Mike McFadden for Senate.

    In the words of the immortal Fagin:

    “In this world, one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts.”

    At least for the penurious Minnesota GOP.

  3. Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 10/25/2013 - 01:03 pm.

    Does it really matter?

    Unless the MN GOP candidates bring forth ideas that resonate with people beyond the base. As an example, on the way to work this morning I heard a recap of a debate between the Republican candidates for the open Senate seat in Iowa. All six preached the same tired old lines of cutting spending and going to Washington to make changes. This is the same line we hear in Minnesota every election as well. It just does not seem to have the same impact when even after cuts have been made, the next batch of “leaders” keeps demanding more.

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