Convention weekend: GOP endorsements wide open

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Minnesota Democratic and Republican delegates will gather this weekend at their respective state conventions, officially kicking off campaign season.

For the first time in years, the DFL convention is expected to be low-key compared to the "battle of the unknowns" for the GOP endorsement as delegates make their picks for governor, U.S. Senate and other state offices, KSTP says.

It's almost guaranteed that Democrats will endorse U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton for second terms at their Duluth convention, Forum News says.

But the GOP convention in Rochester could be more of a raucous event compared to past years, especially because several contenders say they'll take their race to the Aug. 12 primary regardless of who gets endorsed – which activists call very "unRepublican," Forum notes.

Some political analysts say there could even be a deadlock in voting as the party seeks to endorse Senate and gubernatorial candidates.

This weekend's GOP convention will likely determine how relevant the endorsements are for upcoming elections. If delegates don't endorse a gubernatorial and Senate candidate that's capable of winning the election, future candidates will likely skip the endorsement process and go directly to the primaries, the Pioneer Press says. This is because in the past two elections, an endorsement hasn't been critical to winning, the newspaper notes.

Forum says politicos will watch for Republicans who say they'll ignore the party's tradition of going through the caucus and convention process. When Dayton did that four years ago, he wasn't allowed on the DFL convention floor.

Only two of the five leading GOP contenders for governor – Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and state Sen. Dave Thompson – have said they won't run in the primary if the convention endorses someone else, the Pioneer Press says.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert hasn't decided if he'll run without the party's endorsement. Businessman Scott Honour and state Rep. Kurt Zellers have said they will run in the primary if they aren't endorsed. Hibbing special education teacher Rob Farnsworth is also seeking the party's endorsement.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and Washington County farmer Monti Moreno said they will only run if they get the party's endorsement in the U.S. Senate race, the Star Tribune says. State Rep. Jim Abeler will likely run in the primary without endorsement, and businessman Mike McFadden said he will run in the primary without the party's support, according to reports.

St. Paul schoolteacher and Marine Corps veteran David Carlson is reportedly sitting out of the convention, PoliticsMN says.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is not seeking re-election to a third term, which will make for the only competitive statewide race for a Democratic endorsement this weekend, the Pioneer Press says. State Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, faces her colleague Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, for the DFL nomination.

Dan Severson, the 2010 endorsed Republican candidate for secretary of state, is among the contenders seeking the Republican endorsement for secretary of state. Former Sen. John Howe, a Red Wing businessman, is also vying for the GOP nod.

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