Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Dahlberg and McFadden Still Battling for Minnesota GOP Endorsement; Ortman Forced to Exit Rochester Fight

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Dahlberg and McFadden Still Battling for Minnesota GOP Endorsement; Ortman Forced to Exit Rochester Fight

Article excerpt

Republican activists deadlocked between two candidates for the U.S. Senate -- surprise leader St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and businessman Mike McFadden -- temporarily suspending the convention to pick up the endorsing contest early Saturday.

After nine hours of voting and seven ballots, Dahlberg led McFadden 54 to 44 percent -- however, activists gathered in Rochester for the party's convention made little movement in the last round of balloting as the hour approached 2 a.m. With the patience wearing thin for the more than 1,000 remaining delegates, activists overwhelmingly approved a motion to suspend the convention. Republicans are vying to take on DFL incumbent U.S. Sen. Al Franken this fall.

Dahlberg was an underdog in the race but jumped to a first- ballot lead on with 25 percent delegate support. That was a few points ahead of McFadden and state Sen. Julianne Ortman. Ortman was the favorite to win the endorsement coming into the convention, after she won a Senate straw poll among GOP activists October.

GOP Rep. Jim Abeler, bison farmer Monti Moreno and activist Phillip Parrish also sought the endorsement but were dropped from the balloting early after failing to gain enough support.

Dahlberg's support only rose in subsequent rounds of balloting, eventually knocking Ortman out of the endorsement race because she failed to get a minimum number of delegates. Ortman said she would abide by the process and withdrew from the weekend battle, but it was not clear if she would drop out of the fall race if delegates do not endorse. Abeler has not closed the door on a primary campaign.

In his speech to delegates, Dahlberg said he has crossover appeal to voters, winning county commissioner races in St. Louis County, which includes the DFL bastion of Duluth. "I am the only one tested in battle that has won three times in northeastern Minnesota," Dahlberg told delegates.

He branded himself as a "constitutional conservative" and ardently defended the right to bear arms. …

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