Tuesday’s precinct caucuses brought a swift end to Rep. Paul Thissen’s campaign for governor, but boosted several other candidates into the limelight. Thissen finished last in a non-binding straw poll among the six DFL candidates running for governor and called it quits.
Those who got the most votes in the straw poll were Congressman Tim Walz on the DFL side and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson on the Republican side. That wasn’t entirely unexpected. But some of the other results were. State Auditor Rebecca Otto finished a strong second to Walz and bested him in Minnesota’s politically volatile 8th Congressional District in the northeastern quarter of the state.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman finished much lower than expected and failed to beat Walz or Otto in his home town. Coleman has left the door open to running in the primary.
In Eden Prairie, the open governor’s race (Mark Dayton is retiring) and the possibility of flipping the third district congressional seat from Republican to Democrat attracted a crowd that included a lot of first-time caucus participants.
Congressional candidate Dean Phillips had his campaign truck parked at the Eden Prairie high school and was urging people to become delegates for him to the Senate District and Congressional District conventions that will happen later this spring. Also seeking the DFL endorsement are Adam Jennings and Brian Santa Maria. One of them will end up facing Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen this November.
Caucus Straw Poll Results
Minnesota DFL reported 29,942 participants with 95% reporting complete. Republicans had 10,909 participants.
DFL results with 95% of precincts reporting:
Tim Walz: 8,982 votes (30.55%)
Rebecca Otto: 5,886 votes (20.02%)
Erin Murphy: 3,862 votes (13.14%)
Chris Coleman: 3,437 votes (11.69%)
Tina Liebling: 1,810 votes (6.16%)
Paul Thissen: 1,366 votes (4.65%)
Other: 230 votes (.78%)
Uncommitted: 3,829 votes (13.02%)
Final results of the Republican straw poll:
Jeff Johnson: 4,955 votes (45.4%)
Keith Downey: 1,590 votes (14.7%)
Phillip Parrish: 1,307 votes (12.0%)
Mary Giuliani Stephens: 1,298 votes (11.9%)
Lance Johnson: 53 votes (.05%)
Undecided: 1,706 votes (15.6%)
There are senate and county conventions, followed by Congressional District conventions, then the State conventions in June to make the final endorsement for governor.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty was not on the Republican straw poll ballot but he is reportedly considering a run, as is House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who today said he has not closed the door on running. A run by either or both of them could be a serious challenge to Jeff Johnson, who lost to Gov. Dayton in 2014.
There probably won’t be any additions to the five DFL candidates running for governor. At one time State Attorney General Lori Swanson was considering joining the DFL race, but she has declined to do so.