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McFadden wins Minnesota GOP U.S. Senate endorsement on 10th ballot

After trailing Chris Dahlberg on eight ballots, the Sunfish Lake business broker pulled ahead on the ninth and reached 60 percent on the 10th.

A hoarse and visibly emotional Mike McFadden addressed the delegates after Dahlberg conceded.
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday

After ten ballots and 15 hours of debate, Republican delegates in Rochester finally endorsed Sunfish Lake businessman Mike McFadden for the U.S. Senate.

“I am the candidate, undoubtedly, without exception, that can beat Al Franken,” Mike McFadden told the delegates.

Ultimately, he convinced them — even if he acknowledged from the start he would run in a primary without endorsement.

McFadden defeated St. Louis County commissioner Chris Dahlberg, the last man standing in what started as a field of six. Dahlberg ran a campaign long on pluck and short on resources. McFadden exploited his fundraising prowess in his appeal to delegates.

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A hoarse and visibly emotional McFadden addressed the delegates after Dahlberg conceded. “Thank you Minnesota I love ya,” he said.  “I humbly accept. I’d like to give a special thanks to Chris Dahlberg  — what a great man and gentleman.”

Dahlberg, who was greeted by a standing ovation, pledged McFadden his support.  “I’m going to get behind the endorsed candidate,” he said.  “It’s been a great honor and let’s go on to win and defeat Al Franken.” 

Dahlberg established his position as a frontrunner on the first ballot and held it until the ninth.

David Strom, a delegated from the Fifth Congressional District who switched from Dahlberg to McFadden on that ballot, said he thought the group knew it was time to kick one candidate over the top. “There was a general belief that McFadden would win a primary and it would be best to have the endorsement go to the eventual winner,” he said.

The DFL party responded to McFadden’s endorsement with a statement that his business practices, as a mergers and acquisition consultant, cost people their jobs. McFadden volleyed right back. “I don’t think the DFL has any idea how the economy works,” he said at a news conference.

“It’s only the end of the beginning,” McFadden said of the endorsement. 

Technically, it’s not. State senator Julianne Ortman, who dropped out of balloting yesterday, said she would abide by the endorsement.  But state representative Jim Abeler who dropped out after the second ballot, has said he will go to a primary, although the filing deadline for office is Tuesday.  Abeler told MinnPost he will make his decision on Monday.