GOP endorses Emmer for governor

Rep. Marty Seifert conceded to Emmer in order to avoid forcing an August primary.

Tom Emmer addresses the crowd at the Minnesota Republican Convention on Friday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. He would later receive the party’s endorsement for Governor.

Jules Ameel

Tom Emmer addresses the crowd at the Minnesota Republican Convention on Friday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. He would later receive the party’s endorsement for Governor.

Devin Henry

The Republican Party endorsed Tom Emmer, a three-term state representative from Delano, on Friday for the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election. Emmer defeated Rep. Marty Seifert, a former House minority leader, who pledged to campaign for Emmer instead of force an August primary. âÄúRepublicans will win in the fall,âÄù Emmer said in accepting the nomination. âÄúWith your help, weâÄôll take back the state.âÄù Seifert conceded the race after the second ballot. Emmer received more than 56 percent of the vote in a head-to-head matchup on that ballot, only 4 percent away from the 60 percent threshold required for endorsement. Seifert said he forfeited because he didnâÄôt want the process to drag on, although he thought he still had some untapped support. The race was considered by many to be a toss-up going into the convention. Emmer secured the last-second endorsement of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Thursday. He said the feedback he had received resulting from PalinâÄôs endorsement was positive and that it could have strong implications for the general election. When addressing the crowd of about 2,000 delegates, both Emmer and Seifert said they would support smaller government and lower taxes. Emmer took a more personal approach, highlighting his experiences as a small business owner. Seifert spoke specifically about welfare reform when highlighting methods to lessen government. Emmer was more vocal about reworking the stateâÄôs education system. Three of the five candidates vying for the endorsement were eliminated in the first ballot. Each was unable to pass the 5 percent threshold required to remain in the contest. Emmer immediately took the lead, receiving 52.6 percent of the votes. Seifert trailed at 42.5 percent. The second ballot yielded similar results, although Emmer gained traction against Seifert. Initially, Seifert had the lead as rural counties, of which he was considered a favorite, reported their votes first. After the second ballot, Seifert conceded and threw his support behind Emmer. He also announced his retirement from the Legislature at the end of his term. âÄúIâÄôve had a wonderful time in the public service,âÄù Seifert said. âÄúI want each and every one of you to campaign as hard for [Emmer] as IâÄôm going to campaign for him.âÄù Emmer will run as the sole Republican leading up to the election to fill the post Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has held for two terms. The DFL endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher last weekend, but she will face a three-way primary battle in August. Pawlenty, who addressed the convention earlier in the day, said he would campaign for Emmer as well. The party put a great deal of weight behind unifying around a candidate, which Emmer cited as a factor that would help him win in November. Emmer said the specific DFL candidate he will face is unimportant. He said the DemocratsâÄô message is out of touch with the people of Minnesota. âÄúAll I know about is that there are a lot of people in this country who are fed up with the people theyâÄôre electing to office not responding to them, not hearing them, not listening to them,âÄù he said. Phil Troy, part of a group of about 15 University of Minnesota College Republicans who attended the convention, said the publicâÄôs dissatisfaction with the current state government is the source of a significant portion of EmmerâÄôs momentum. Troy also said SeifertâÄôs easy concession indicates party unity the Democrats lack. Nick Amell, College Republicans junior vice chairman, said he came to the convention to spread word about the University as a political force. Both he and Troy worked for the Seifert campaign but were happy with Emmer as a candidate. âÄúWeâÄôre unified going forward,âÄù Troy said. âÄúThatâÄôs going to help Tom.âÄù The groupâÄôs president, Juliana Feldhacker, said she hopes the partyâÄôs unity wonâÄôt lead to overconfidence. She said she hopes to maintain this energy going forward. Feldhacker served as an alternate delegate. Emmer remained energetic throughout the convention. He joked he had been to every hockey arena in the state. âÄúItâÄôs got to rise above parties,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs got to be about freedom, itâÄôs got to be about opportunity, itâÄôs got to be about putting people back in charge of their own destiny.âÄù