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Dan Severson wins secretary of state endorsement at Minnesota Republican convention

The former state representative beat former Sen. John Howe in what will be an incumbent-less race this fall.

Rep. Dan “Doc” Severson accepted the GOP nomination for secretary of state on Friday.
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday

Former state Rep. Dan “Doc” Severson won the support of Republican activists over former Sen. John Howe to carry the party’s banner in the Secretary of State race this fall.

Howe withdrew his name from consideration after one ballot at the party’s endorsing convention in Rochester on Friday. Current DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is retiring, leaving the office wide open this election cycle.

Severson ran against Ritchie in 2010, losing by about 4 points. He also unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012. Severson served parts of Benton and Stearns County for four terms in the state House.

Severson touted a specific plan for his first 100 days if he’s elected secretary of state that includes a voluntary photo identification program and a legislative audit of the state’s voting system.

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“It’s time for a conservative secretary of state,” Severson told the crowd. “Without clean elections, we cannot keep our republic.”

Howe served one term in the Senate representing Red Wing before losing in the 2012 election. While he lost the endorsement, Howe encouraged Republicans to not make their message in the 2014 secretary of state race about voter ID.  

“If we talk about voter ID we are going to give this election to the Democrats,” Howe said, encouraging the Republican candidate to focus on the business filling part of the secretary of state’s job.

DFL activists will also pick their candidate in Duluth on Saturday for the secretary of state’s race. State Reps. Steve Simon and Deb Hilstrom are seeking the party’s backing.