After the conventions: GOP candidates tour state by airplane

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The dust has barely settled after the GOP and DFL endorsement conventions, but the candidates are already out on the hustings.

The real action over the weekend was at the Republican convention, where Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson emerged as the party's endorsed nominee for governor, and Mike McFadden was named the GOP-backed choice for U.S. Senate.

Both appeared at a news conference Monday morning, where GOP officials and other candidates stressed that their party was united. They shrugged off any controversy that might be generated by in-fighting prior to an August primary.

“I think the Republican Party of Minnesota is more unified, more energized and stronger than we have been in a long time,” GOP Chairman Keith Downey said.

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, lt. governor, attorney general, auditor and secretary of state on Monday flew off on a two-day tour of the state, with nine news conferences scheduled.

This tweet from state auditor candidate Randy Gilbert:

Later in the day, they picked up GOP U.S. House candiate Stewart Mills.

In the governor's race, Johnson faces three other candidates in an Aug. 12 primary: Scott Honour, Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers. Johnson says he will not go negative against his fellow GOP candidates, stressing that he will focus his criticism on incumbent DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

This marks the first competitive GOP primary race for governor since 1994, the Associated Press noted. Johnson plans to raise as much as $1 million for the primary battle, the AP reported.

In the Senate race, the GOP endorsed McFadden after 15 hours of discussion and balloting. In the end, he emerged over contenders including state Sen. Julianne Ortman and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, and he vowed to take the fight to incumbent DFL Sen. Al Franken.

The Washington Post's The Fix politics blog notes that McFadden is a self-funder and GOP establishment favorite who could make the race competitive.

The Star Tribune profiles the campaign road ahead for Franken and examines whether the comedian-turned senator has become too serious.

As expected, Democrats over the weekend endorsed incumbents Dayton, Franken, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Auditor Rebecca Otto. The DFL also endorsed Rep. Steve Simon of Hopkins for secretary of state.

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