Minnesota Republican activists have shown an early preference for Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson as a 2014 candidate for governor and state Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, for the U.S. senate.
Five candidates who want to challenge incumbent DFL Gov. Mark Dayton next year spoke to party insiders today at a State Central Committee meeting in Blaine. Six U.S. Senate hopefuls spoke in advance of the balloting.
Johnson received 143 of the votes cast by delegates and alternates. He was followed by state Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who received 111 votes. The third place finisher as a write-in was former state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall (75). State Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove came in fourth (31) , followed by teacher Rob Farnsworth (26) and businessman Scott Honour (16).
Republicans will formally endorse a candidate at their state convention in May. But a primary appear certain. Only John and Thompson have said they will abide by the endorsement .
Afterward, Johnson said the he was happy with the outcome.
“It shows I’m in a strong spot with the true grassroots leaders of the party,” Johnson said.
Among the candidates hoping to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Al Franken in 2014, Ortman was the top straw poll vote getter. She was followed by businessman Mike McFadden, Harold Shudlick, St. Louis Co. Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, state Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka and farmer Monti Moreno.
In her speech, Ortman stressed her experience. She also tried to take the mantle of frontrunner.
“Let’s give Minnesotans the matchup they want,” Ortman said.