Tom Emmer won the Minnesota Republican Party’s endorsement Friday afternoon to run for governor in November, prevailing over chief rival Marty Seifert.
Seifert conceded shortly after second-ballot results were announced: Emmer 1,118 votes for 56 percent, and Seifert 876 for 43.8 percent. Sixty percent was needed for endorsement.
“Thank you for an amazing ride that’s just beginning,” Emmer told the crowd after ascending the steps to the stage and clasping hands with Seifert at the podium. “This is where it all begins. This is the journey that we’re setting off on to take back our state and take back our country.
“Republicans will win this fall.”
Emmer and Seifert had run neck-and-neck for months, and some predictions in the weeks leading up to this weekend’s state convention in Minneapolis said the number of gubernatorial endorsement ballots could reach the double digits.
Instead, after Emmer built up a commanding lead in the first ballot, it took only two — one fewer than the endorsement battle for state auditor that stretched past midnight and eventually anointed former state auditor Pat Anderson as the nominee.
In his acceptance speech, Emmer thanked his wife, Jacquie, and their seven children. He also paid tribute to the residents of his home turf, Wright County, and Dave FitzSimmons, his campaign manager.
And he thanked Seifert, calling him a “class act,” and praised convention organizers.
“I think it’s imperative that we recognize the difference between conventions,” Emmer said, drawing comparisons between the GOP gathering and last week’s DFL convention in Duluth, where delegates went through six ballots before endorsing House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Two other DFLers, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza, will challenge Kelliher on the August primary ballot.
Emmer’s campaign got a boost Thursday afternoon with an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. At midafternoon Friday, news surfaced that former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich also had thrown his support behind Emmer — but Emmer clinched the endorsement so fast that the campaign never had a chance to widely circulate the information.