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Endorsement roundup: Mike Beard survives 12-ballot endorsing barn-burner

Paul Demko and Charley Shaw//April 16, 2012

Endorsement roundup: Mike Beard survives 12-ballot endorsing barn-burner

Paul Demko and Charley Shaw//April 16, 2012

Mike Beard (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

State Rep. Mike Beard barely survived a GOP endorsement challenge on Saturday in House District 55A. The five-term incumbent, who chairs the Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, led by just four votes on the 12th ballot. But challenger Bruce Mackenthun withdrew his candidacy rather than proceed to a contested primary.

Beard faced scrutiny, in particular, from delegates over his support for so-called retention elections in judicial contests. Beard carried a House bill for a constitutional amendment to adopt the retention system in Minnesota. The proposed change is deeply unpopular among some GOP activists. “That’s all it was about,” Beard says. “It just shows how irrational and obsessed a few people are. What grieves me is not that we disagree, but that they are opposed even to having a discussion about it.”

Mackenthun, a home builder, led on the initial ballot and came within four votes of winning the endorsement on a prior ballot.

Beard said afterward that he considered running for the Senate endorsement to replace Robling, but was concerned that the activists opposing him might allege he was merely trying to avoid a showdown over his House endorsement. “I gave it serious thought,” he said. “I deeply admire Sen. Robling and her style of legislating, and believe that it mirrors my process.

“But,” he added, “if I stay put, I’m still the dean of the Scott County delegation. So I decided, I’ll just put on my big-boy pants and do the right thing.”

In District 55B, Tony Albright was endorsed to replace the retiring Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan. In the Senate seat in 55, Eric Pratt was endorsed on the first ballot to succeed the retiring Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan. Robling, a 16-year veteran of the Senate, announced her retirement the day before the convention, citing frustration with the politics at the state Capitol.

In other endorsement convention action:

2A: Roger Erickson won the DFL endorsement on Saturday in the politically competitive District 2A to run against Rep. David Hancock, R-Bemidji, according to two DFL legislators from northern Minnesota with knowledge of the proceedings. Erickson is a former teacher from Baudette. Bagley Mayor Mark Edevold dropped out before the balloting began at the convention in Clearbrook and Sean Peterson lost to Erickson on the first ballot. Peterson is the son of 7th Congressional Rep. Collin Peterson.

2B: District 2B is an open seat due to redistricting. Former Rep. Brita Sailer of Park Rapids won the endorsement unopposed. The Bemidji Pioneer reported that Steve Green of rural Fosston won the GOP endorsement last Friday for the open 2B seat.

4A: DFLers endorsed Clay County party activist Ben Lien to run in District 4A in the Moorhead area. The district is home to GOP incumbent Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead. Lanning is assumed, but not for certain, to be running for a sixth term. The GOP doesn’t plan to hold an endorsing convention in 4A until after the legislative session in May.

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