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GOP convention update: Johnson for governor, McFadden for Senate

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Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won the Republican Party's endorsement for governor in a bizarre ending to the state GOP convention in Rochester Saturday night.

Johnson won the endorsement on the fourth ballot after one opponent, state Sen. Dave Thompson, withdrew from the race and endorsed Johnson and the other major contender, former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, released his delegates and said he would run in the party primary in August, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Instead of withdrawing from the endorsement race, Seifert encouraged his supporters to go home, according to the Pioneer Press. If too many of them left, the convention would have been short of the quorum it needed to endorse.

Party officials pleaded with delegates to stay and vote one more time, and they did so -- giving Johnson the endorsement with 90 percent support.

He will face three challengers in the GOP primary on Aug. 12 -- Seifert, Orono businessman Scott Honour and state Rep. Kurt Zellers. The winner will oppose DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who easily won endorsement at the DFL Party convention being held in Duluth.

The GOP endorsement fight for U.S. Senate had its own drama. It took 10 rounds of voting and a day and a half before the delegates decided to endorse businessman Mike McFadden to challenge DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken in November.

The delegates had seven rounds of balloting on Friday, but adjourned at 2 a.m. when neither McFadden nor St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg could get to the 60 percent threshold to win. Three other candidates were eliminated in the early rounds.

They reconvened Saturday morning and needed three more ballots before choosing McFadden, a Twin Cities investment banker.

“I look forward to taking the fight to Al Franken,” McFadden said, according to MPR News. He called for the delegates to unite behind his campaign.

“Together, all of us in this room as a team, will fight and we will win,” he said, “In November, we will beat Al Franken.”

Like Dayton, Franken was overwhelmingly endorsed for re-election by delegates at the DFL convention.

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