Minnesota Republicans will offer their first hint of candidates the party might endorse for governor and U.S. senator with a straw poll at the GOP’s fall meeting Oct. 26.
The 350 delegates and alternates who make up the party’s state central committee will hear from the candidates before casting their ballots.
Keith Downey, chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, said that traditionally the state central committee holds a straw poll during an election year. “It creates some excitement around the field,” he said. Of the Republican attention to gubernatorial candidates in particular, he said, “The level of interest that we have is an indication that people sense we need a change.”
Businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Sen. Dave Thompson and state Rep. Kurt Zellers have announced they are running for governor. State Sen. Julie Rosen and former state representative Marty Seifert are considering joining the competition.
“There are names that have been bandied about and I wouldn’t be surprised if the field grew,” said Downey who added, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if the field shrank over the next six months.”
Downey said he wasn’t concerned that Honour and Zellers have indicated they would not abide by the party endorsement process. “It’s early and it’s hard for them to see that far in the future. I think they want to keep their options open,” he said. “But it’s a free country and we Republicans welcome competition and if someone thinks they want to go to a primary, it will make us all stronger.”
Downey noted that in recent history only one non-endorsed Republican candidate has won a contested primary — former Gov. Arne Carlson.