Favored governor candidates snubbed in Minnesota conventions

Favored governor candidates snubbed in Minnesota conventions
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Both leading candidates to become Minnesota's next governor failed to nab their party's endorsement at conventions on Saturday, as party activists picked outsiders who hew more closely to their respective bases.

State Rep. Erin Murphy (D) won an endorsement from Democrats at their convention in Rochester, after a six-ballot battle with Rep. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzMinnesota New Members 2019 GOP earns House victory in Minnesota State elections reveal a deeply divided America MORE (D).

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In Duluth, state Republicans picked Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R), the party's 2014 nominee for governor. Most national Republicans back former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who did not compete for the endorsement.

Murphy and Johnson each appealed to party activists who wanted a candidate carrying an aggressive message into November's midterm elections.

"It is no time for tippy-toe politics," Murphy told Democrats in Rochester.

"This is about the heart and soul of the Republican Party," Johnson said. "We represent the grassroots, and Tim Pawlenty has not."

The endorsements are a boost for Murphy, who spent months building a grassroots team specifically to compete for the nod, and Johnson, who has cast himself as more conservative than the better-known Pawlenty.

Winning the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party's endorsement gives Murphy access to voter lists, party-funded field operatives and offices as she mounts her bid.

Ken Martin, the DFL chairman, said no party-endorsed candidate had lost in a primary since 2010, when he took over as chairman.

Jennifer Carnahan, who heads the state GOP, called Pawlenty's decision to skip the convention "disappointing."

Party conventions in Minnesota typically narrow crowded primary fields. But this year, that won't happen -- both Walz and Pawlenty have said they will compete in the August 14 primary, in which they remain the front-runners. Democratic state Auditor Rebecca Otto said she too will run in the August primary.

Walz and Pawlenty have huge fundraising leads over their lesser-known rivals. Walz had raised $1.6 million as of the last reporting period, more than three times what Murphy had raised. Pawlenty, who only entered the race in March, pulled in just over $1 million in his first month on the trail, almost three times the $373,000 Johnson had raised.

"We have a primary in front of us," Johnson told reporters after winning the endorsement. "We could whine and cry about it, but instead I'd rather just go and win it."