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Jeff Johnson wins GOP gubernatorial endorsement; Marty Seifert criticized

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Jeff Johnson: "We need to ... pull together every faction and group in the party. We need to appeal to the people that left [the party]."

The four-way race for the Republican endorsement for governor ended with the endorsement of Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson — but not before a Machiavellian twist that ensures a four-way primary. 

On the third ballot, Johnson led state senator Dave Thompson, and former state representative Marty Seifert by 17 points, clearing Johnson’s path to an eventual victory.

Thompson dropped out on the third ballot, getting a standing ovation when he asked his opponents not abiding by the endorsement “to think about it.”

“I would implore my opponents to think about whether running in a primary is for the good of a cause or for the elevation of self,” Thompson said, asking his delegates to support Johnson. 

Seifert then startled the delegates by taking the podium.  He released his delegates but did not technically withdraw, forcing a fourth and final ballot. 

Seifert’s move drew a surprisingly public rebuke from party chair Keith Downey who said when Seifert asked to speak to the delegates, “it was assumed he would also withdraw.”

But Downey said Seifert’s intent was to prevent any endorsement by telling Seifert delegates to leave and reducing the delegate number to an insufficient level for a legal endorsement. “That was uncalled for,” Downey said.

Delegate numbers were sufficient to give Johnson a victory on fourth ballot. “It has been a positive race,” Johnson told the delegates in his acceptance speech. “I particularly want to thank Dave Thompson and Michelle Benson for being two of the classiest people.” 

He now faces Seifert, state representative Kurt Zellers, and Orono businessman Scott Honour in the August 12 primary.

“It ain’t going to be easy,” Johnson said of the primary contest.  “We need to … pull together every faction and group in the party.  We need to appeal to the people that left [the party].”

The endorsement battles in both the U.S.Senate and governor’s races have made the party stronger, Downey told the delegates.  “I thought our party had actually grown, the heart and soul even stronger, and it is,” he said.

Delegate and Minnesota Tea Party Alliance chair Jack Rogers was blunter. “Marty [Seifert] has just galvanized every faction in this party to work for the endorsed candidate,” he said.

Marty Seifert
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Marty Seifert’s move drew a surprisingly public rebuke from party chair Keith Downey.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Tom Knisely on 06/01/2014 - 12:46 am.

    Selective Outrage

    McFadden said he would not abide by the endorsement and the establishment and Michelle Bachmann worked hard to endorse him. A few hours later in the Governors race when the credentials report said Seifert would not abide he was soundly booed for taking the exact same position as McFadden. MNGOP2014 is schizophrenic. We wonder why people outside the hall don’t take us seriously.

  2. Submitted by Pat Brady on 06/01/2014 - 10:44 am.

    What exactly does a GOP endorsment mean these days?

    Jeff Johnson is still not out of the woods. Four folks on the GOP Primary ballot for govneor . And the primary is not until August.
    Regardless of who runs against Dayton, it will be a uphill battle.
    Adn the State Republican Party is still in debt!

  3. Submitted by Jim Million on 06/01/2014 - 11:14 am.

    Bistro blackboard vs. Pre-printed menu

    While the DFL usually carefully crafts its conventions, producing something akin to a corporate employee roster, the MNGOP seems to prefer the quaint 19th century open forum, floor fights and backroom brawls, included.

    The MNGOP operates like a bistro (some would say “truck stop”);
    whereas, the DFL seems more like a chain restaurant. Will voters go for adventure with some risk, or for predictability? Depends on the level of seasoning, no doubt.

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 06/02/2014 - 08:21 am.

      The choice is clear.

      I’ll pick predictability.

      The predictable, good stewardship of the government by the DFL, thanks.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 06/02/2014 - 04:19 pm.

      As long as you

      Describe bistro as bad food. The most important 1% of your party would never go to a bistro (and hardly a truck stop). LOL

  4. Submitted by Lora Jones on 06/02/2014 - 08:44 am.

    DFL “always carefully choreographed?”

    Wow. Before the Tea Party (and Mitt giving carte blanche to Clint) it was the GOP whose conventions more closely resembled stage shows than political events, locally and nationally. Kudos to you for making lemonade out of lemons! But rather ironic when it was only 4 years ago that the DFL was purportedly “doomed” and “in chaos” because of similar internecine battles!

  5. Submitted by Me Mi on 06/05/2014 - 04:17 pm.

    Establishment versus spunk

    My stock just went up in Marty. Although I was a qualified attendee, I just couldn’t go. I didn’t drink the water of party unity – but I just love Seifert’s commitment and his willingness to confront established Republicans. We need more leaders that are more like Marty – similar to us Minnesotan republicans that we have to deal with our personal survival and defend our principles and values every day. I am sure that Marty learned from his Governor run against Emmer: the endorsement is not about the fair contest among principled-republican-citizens, but about the self-preservation of the establishment. Except for pumping you for money, the establishment soon forgets you. As a pay-for-play, past get-in-line attendee, I can attest that Jeff is about as established as one can get. I will be contacting Marty’s campaign soon.

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