Steve Kelley today became the first victim of the DFL’s caucus-night straw poll, dropping out of the gubernatorial race.
“Even with your support, and the amazingly hard work of a dedicated and talented campaign team, I have not been as successful as we had hoped when the campaign began,’’ Kelley said in a statement. “As a result, I have decided to withdraw from the race for governor.’’
Kelley, a former senator from Hopkins who is respected by most of his peers as a superior state legislator, received just 4 percent of Tuesday night’s straw poll vote, finishing ahead of only Ramsey County District Attorney Susan Gaertner in the field of nine major candidates. (Mark Dayton’s name was not on the straw poll ballot at his request, because Dayton is not seeking endorsement but is headed directly to a primary.)
Before caucuses opened Tuesday evening, Kelley, the man with the green tie, had pooh-poohed the importance of the straw polls. But obviously, he had expected more support than he received from a party that knew him well.
Kelley, a state legislator from 1992 to 2006, had presented himself as a candidate who could win in the suburbs, as well as in traditional DFL strongholds.
He said he intends to support whomever the party endorses.
His departure from the race means that the DFL field of major candidates is now at nine.