Update 12:30 pm Saturday: St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg’s momentum from early Saturday morning is flagging in his fight with Minneapolis financier Mike McFadden for the Republican US Senate endorsement.
In the eighth round of balloting, which began after an impromptu recess ended the first day of the endorsement contest, McFadden gained on Dahlberg and the two sat essentially tied at roughly 49 percent. But McFadden surged ahead in the ninth round of balloting. The new totals have McFadden sitting at 53.17 percent and Dahlberg at 44.98 percent.
Just before the eighth ballot was cast, both candidates addressed the crowd of delegates at the RPM convention in Rochester.
Dahlberg drummed up his experience securing DFL votes as a tribute to his viability as a candidate and again highlighted that he’s pledged to abide by the party endorsement, which McFadden has said he won’t do. Dahlberg — who only had about $39,000 on hand at the end of the last campaign finance reporting cycle — also tried to put to bed concerns that he doesn’t have the funds to mount a serious campaign against incumbent Democrat Al Franken.
“Let’s raise the issue right now up front,” Dahlberg told the crowd. “Some people say it’s all about the money. Well you know what? Poltical graveyards have been filled with campaigns where they thought it was all about the money.”
McFadden hammered home that he had the vision and the organization to mount a credible threat to Franken.
“We’ve proven that we can raise the resources to beat Al Franken,” he said.
Delegates headed into the tenth round of ballots just shy of 1 pm. A 60 percent vote is required to endorse a candidate.
Delegates at the state GOP convention in Rochester took a pause to sleep on their decision over who to endorse for US Senate.
St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg led Minneapolis financier Mike McFadden with 54 percent support compared to McFadden’s 44.1 percent on the seventh round of balloting, which trickled early into Saturday. Delegates voted shortly afterward to recess until 9 am.
Balloting for the Republican US Senate endorsement on Friday confounded the expectations of party insiders and pundits alike. Through the course of seven ballots that consumed about nine hours of convention time, Dahlberg has led from the start.
State Sen. Julianne Ortman, widely deemed to be the frontrunner for the endorsement, garnered just 22 percent on the first ballot, trailing both Dahlberg (25 percent) and McFadden (23 percent) — who has never suggested that he would abide by the endorsement. Ortman later got forced out on the fifth round of voting because she dropped below the 20 percent threshold required to remain in the contest
Two candidates placed in nomination — state Rep. Jim Abeler and bison farmer/hair salon owner Monti Moreno — survived the 5 percent cut-off on the first ballot but fell off in the second round; a third, Philip Parrish, opted to drop out after the third round though his 11 percent showing technically qualified him to continue on.
Moreno and Parrish both endorsed Ortman in concession speeches before the convention, and her showing improved marginally on the fourth ballot, rising from 18 percent to 23 percent. But Dahlberg and McFadden both picked up additional support in the fourth round as well, tallying 44 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
The two made expected gains after Ortman dropped out, and they held their support steady between the sixth and seventh ballots. Check back at 9 am for updates. The GOP’s endorsement for governor will also be taken up on Saturday.