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DFL endorses Murphy, GOP pick Johnson on a wild day in Minnesota politics

Party delegates selected their preferred candidates on Saturday.

Erin Murphy has received the backing of the Minnesota DFL, while Jeff Johnson has the support of state Republicans in this year's gubernatorial elections.

But Saturday's party conventions have left the race for governor just as unpredictable as before, despite both parties picking their chosen candidates.

That's because both Murphy, a state representative, and Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, now face tough primary battles in August to secure their candidacy.

Most of the drama on Saturday came in Rochester, where Murphy upset the odds by getting the endorsement ahead of U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.

Walz was leading after the first round of voting, but as the rounds continued, and with state auditor Rebecca Otto dropping out, more delegates shifted their votes to Murphy, the St. Paul state politician whose campaign had built momentum in recent months on the back of some strong endorsements.

When it emerged that Murphy was the frontrunner, but still not with enough votes to reach the 60 percent needed for the endorsement, Walz and Otto combined to appeal for their supporters to vote for "no endorsement.'

It would have been the first time since 1958 the DFL hadn't endorsed a gubernatorial candidate at the convention, but the bid ultimately failed, leading to Walz withdrawing.

Walz, however, has confirmed he intends to fight for the candidacy in August's primaries.

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Meanwhile, in Duluth...

At the GOP convention in Duluth, proceedings ran a lot more smoothly except for the failure of the electronic balloting system, which meant paper ballots had to be used.

As expected, Johnson ran out the winner, giving himself a chance at another gubernatorial run, after losing to current Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014.

But the specter of Tim Pawlenty loomed over proceedings, with Johnson knowing that they will have to face the former governor in an August primary.

Pawlenty skipped the convention, saying he entered the race too late to seek the endorsement, but intends to fight in the primaries.

After securing the endorsement, Johnson immediately turned his attentions to Pawlenty, about whom he's previously attacked for not fully supporting President Donald Trump, and has said his candidacy would make the November election a vote on Pawlenty.

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