Former four-term Rep. Dan “Doc” Severson will take on a Democrat for the open secretary of state’s office in November, beating out elections-minded former state Sen. John Howe for the party’s endorsement on Friday.
Delegates at the GOP convention in Rochester cast a single ballot choosing between the two, but Howe bowed out before the results were reported. Severson does not yet have a DFL opponent: DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is retiring, and Democratic convention-goers in Duluth will choose between Reps. Steve Simon (Hopkins) and Deb Hilstrom (Brooklyn Center) on Saturday.
In his initial speech before delegates, Severson said he supports voluntary Voter ID as well as convening a group of business leaders to present a set of reforms to the Legislature. Howe, before stepping out of the race, said he would focus on the often-forgotten business side of the secretary of state’s office.
“I really think if we focus on business that’s the winning message for Republicans, it is absolutely the winning message,” Howe said. “If we focus on Voter ID we’re going to hand this over to the Democrats. They’re going to talk about voter restriction. They’re going to scare minorities, they’re going to scare seniors that you’re not going to be able to vote.”
Dan McGrath, president of Minnesota Majority, a conservative group that ran the failed 2012 Voter ID constitutional amendment campaign, stood in the crowd of delegates shortly before Howe stepped down. McGrath offered: “He’s wrong,” and later said that he would be happy to work with either Republican candidate.
“We’re aren’t just going to focus on Voter ID, we’re going to focus on business, but we’re going to clean up the election system in this state so that in the future, we can win elections by fair votes,” Severson said after Howe had stepped out.
Severson, who served in the House from 2003 to 2011, is a retired fighter pilot.