DULUTH, Minn. - Nearly 1,900 Republicans from across Minnesota decided that Hennepin County Commissioner, Jeff Johnson is their best chance at winning back the Governor's mansion.
Johnson was endorsed by acclimation. Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and Phillip Parrish withdrew from the race after the third ballot.
"We Jeff has the experience and values necessary to reach a wide swath of voters in Minnesota and win back the Governor's seat," said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan. "Minnesota has been trending and turning more red over the past three election cycles and we are confident in our abilities to elect a Republican Governor in November."
Johnson lost to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014, but a bigger test looms ahead for him in the Republican primary. Former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is looking to win his old job and opted to skip the weekend convention and head straight to an August primary. Johnson has spent the last several weeks pitching that he'd be a better choice than Pawlenty.
At the DFL convention in Rochester Democrats are still working on an endorsed candidate for Governor, but there was a bit of drama earlier Saturday when third-term Attorney General Lori Swanson withdrew from the party's endorsement for Attorney General. A spokesman for Swanson says she is considering all her options, including a possible last-minute entry in the race for governor.
Swanson's exit from the endorsement Saturday was a shocker to Democrats gathered in Rochester to endorse statewide candidates. She narrowly led voting after one round but dropped from the process, giving the endorsement to challenger and Democratic attorney Matt Pelikan.
Spokesman Ben Wogsland says she is considering her options. That could include challenging Pelikan in an August primary or filing to run for governor.
Swanson had been considering a possible run for governor for months before deciding to run for a fourth term as attorney general. The filing window for state offices closes Tuesday.