Thompson out, Seifert releases delegates

The race for the GOP’s gubernatorial endorsement shifted dramatically after delegates voted for a third time, and it appeared Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was heading toward winning.

“I see no reasonable path to victory and I don’t want to attempt to lock this convention up,” Sen. Dave Thompson told the delegates. He had 27.6 percent of the votes on the third ballot – enough to keep him in the race if he’d wanted to stay.

Instead he asked his supporters to vote for  Johnson on the fourth ballot. Johnson left the third round of voting with 44.5 percent of the vote, a healthy lead over Marty Seifert, who also had 27.6 percent of the vote.

“I don’t think anyone in this room would say Jeff Johnson isn’t qualified to be governor of this state,” Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Seifert announced he will be going to the primary. At the same time, he released his delegates to go home.

“Instead of dragging things out, taking your time, keeping you here, I am going to decide that my delegates can be released to go home and go get your sleep,” Seifert said.

But Seifert didn’t officially drop out of the endorsement race, leaving delegates angry and confused and by rule unable to directly confer the endorsement on Johnson.

That means a fourth ballot needs to be taken even though it appears Jeff Johnson now has the endorsement wrapped up.