2014 MN GOP State Convention – What Happened?

PoliticsMN_WEBSITELogoThe 2014 Republican Party of Minnesota State Convention is completed and my predictions on who would be endorsed for the U.S. Senate and governor were off the mark. So what happened at the convention?

The attendance at the convention was low and with contested endorsements for U.S. Senate and governor, this is unprecedented in the modern history of party conventions.

Overall, the convention was well organized. I’ve been to 17 state convention (both DFL & GOP) and the Republican Party of Minnesota ran a very efficient and orderly convention. The voting was timely, the WIFI was great, and party staff were very helpful the entire convention.

U.S. Senate – Mike McFadden

McFaddenHeadshotAs I wrote in my predictions, there were a high number of undecided delegates and alternates for the U.S. Senate endorsement.  But instead of five candidates seeking the endorsement, six candidates gave speeches and presentations at the convention. Phillip Parrish did have difficulty meeting the signature requirement, but was given an extension to gather the additional signatures.

The six candidates seeking the endorsement were:

  1. Jim Abeler
  2. Chris Dahlberg
  3. Mike McFadden
  4. Monti Moreno
  5. Julianne Ortman
  6. Phillip Parrish

The speeches and presentations by the candidates were very important, especially with so many undecided delegates and seated alternates determining who would be endorsed. After the speeches, I wrote the candidates would be much closer in totals than expected.

As predicted, this turned into a three-person race for the endorsement: Dahlberg, McFadden, Ortman. But what couldn’t be predicted is how Ortman’s campaign would collapse at the convention. Her speech and presentation was very flat and her campaign quickly spiraled out of control soon after Ortman came in third place on the first ballot.

Dahlberg did have a strong showing on Friday, as he gave a good speech and presentation. Dahlberg would remain in the lead for eight ballots, but he lost the endorsement to McFadden on the tenth ballot.

McFadden’s campaign had the best organization at the convention during the U.S. Senate endorsement. McFadden’s campaign simply outworked and outsmarted the other campaigns throughout balloting, which lasted over two days.  Tom Emmer’s campaign, led by David FitzSimmons, helped McFadden’s campaign at the convention.

The key vote in the U.S. Senate endorsement was the vote to recess the convention at 2 AM on early Sunday morning just after the seventh ballot. Dahlberg was leading in the ballot and was close to being endorsed, but his campaign didn’t resist the recess. Delaying the vote stalled Dahlberg’s momentum. It was a strategic mistake and cost Dahlberg the endorsement.

While others slept, McFadden’s campaign stayed up and worked through the night, preparing for the balloting to start again. McFadden’s campaign began the day by announcing an endorsement from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. McFadden gained on the eight ballot, took the lead on the ninth ballot and won the endorsement on the tenth ballot.

It is worth noting that McFadden was booed when his name was first announced, but McFadden later won the crowd over and received the endorsement. Candidates that are booed don’t usually get endorsed. McFadden’s victory was impressive.

McFadden’s campaign team outworked the other campaigns and with the Republican Party of Minnesota’s endorsement for the U.S. Senate, McFadden has been propelled from the convention with a boost of energy.

Republicans endorsed the strongest candidate to run for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Senator Al Franken.

Governor – Jeff Johnson

JeffJohnsonHeadshotThe endorsement for governor was completely separate than the endorsement for U.S. Senate – McFadden is a different candidate than Jeff Johnson. Two separate races, two different endorsements. But as predicted, the endorsement fight for governor was more combative than the endorsement for U.S. Senate.

The four candidates seeking the endorsement were:

  1. Jeff Johnson
  2. Marty Seifert
  3. Dave Thompson
  4. Rob Farnsworth

This quickly turned into a three-person race for the endorsement: Johnson, Seifert, Thompson. As I wrote, Johnson and Thompson aligned, with Thompson ending his campaign and endorsing Johnson after the third ballot.

As in the endorsement for the U.S. Senate, the speeches and presentations by the candidates for governor were very important. Johnson’s campaign had the best visual presence (banners, signs, posters, etc.) and organization at the convention. But Johnson came into the convention low on resources and likely spent a large portion of his money for the convention.

While McFadden raised the most money out of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Johnson has struggled with fundraising. Johnson’s fundraising total for the first quarter of 2014 was very low, only raising $32,027. Johnson leaves the convention on fumes, trailing some of his rivals in the Republican primary other candidates in fundraising.

One of the more dramatic events at the convention happened when Marty Seifert addressed the convention after the third ballot. Seifert released his delegates and announced he would be running in the Republican primary. Seifert’s speech upset the leadership of the Republican Party of Minnesota and supporters of Johnson, as delegates left the convention. Click here for a post from Jeff Kolb about the reaction to Seifert’s speech.

It is not the responsibility of Seifert’s campaign to produce the delegates for Johnson to receive the endorsement. The lack of enthusiasm for was Johnson best displayed when he was endorsed on the fourth ballot, by a small number of delegates in a partially empty convention hall.


Johnson is one of the weakest candidates that has ever been endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota for governor. He is facing three other top candidates in the Republican primary election and a very divided Republican Party IN Minnesota.


The Republican Party of Minnesota has not faced a strong challenge to an endorsed candidate for statewide office in 20 years. Johnson is the endorsed candidate and it would be safe to assume he is the favorite to win the Republican primary in August. But August is a long way and things could change.

The future of the endorsement process rests on the shoulders of McFadden and Johnson. If McFadden and Johnson do not win the primary and the general election, the endorsement process is dead.

Johnson and McFadden are two different candidates. McFadden may clear the field in the primary, while Johnson will face three strong opponents. If was Johnson perceived as a strong candidate, candidates would not be filing to run against him in the primary.

Two things happen to campaigns after they win the endorsement:

  1. The campaigns regroup and adjust their strategy, recognizing that the endorsement is one step in the process to being elected.
  2. The campaign acts like every decision they have made since announcing was correct and more forward with a flawed strategy, with cocky advisors.

It remains to be seen which choice Johnson’s campaign will take, but the next few weeks will be very interesting to watch. Please check back to politics.mn for additional analysis on the 2014 elections.


  1. Folks,

    The first ballot on Saturday morning was invalidated because you spoke during the balloting whereas McFadden did not have the opportunity.

    In the next ballot (8, 9? I’m not sure) Emmer (Who had endorsed McFadden and was actively stumping for him) took the podium and you had no similar opportunity to have a similar speaker….This is way out of line…

    Also, McFadden was actively courting Bachman on Saturday Morning trying to get the endorsement and the “mistake” on the first ballot was the delay McFadden needed to have time to persuade Bachman….The entire convention was a crock!!

  2. I was not at the convention but from what I’ve read on twitter Seifert TOLD his delegates to leave so there would not be a quorum … Did he infact say that?

  3. Ronald Reagan says:

    As usual, Mr. Brodkorp likes to bend the truth to suit his inflated sense of self-worth.

    The photo you see above was taken AFTER the endorsement process was over, NOT during the vote or in-between votes.

    The hall was NOT empty, and despite Seifert’s attempts to get his delegates to stand up and leave, they stayed. Some left, but most stayed. I guess that’s why Mr. Brodkorp won’t show you the actually numbers.

    Most Seifert supporters were confused or angry. I even overheard a Seifert supporter apologizing to a Johnson campaign staffer for Marty’s actions. What Marty did may have been a “strategy”, but even more so, it was dirty, despicable, disrespectful and dishonest.

    Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson showed their integrity and purpose. Marty showed why he should never be elected to a public office ever again.

  4. “Ronnie” –

    Mr. Brodkorb (not Brodkorp) has a sense of self-worth that is proportional to what he is actually worth.

    I want a simple answer to a simple question, I have no axe to grind. Did Seifert SAY to his delegates, “leave the convention”. I’m hoping there is a video of it…its to the point I don’t trust anyone with an answer, cuz there is just too much hype.

  5. Just talked to a delegate who I trust who was at the convention – according to her Seifert said he was “releasing” his delegates and that they could vote in the primary and that they all had a long drive home; he did not tell them to leave now so there won’t be a quorum.

  6. Whiny ass people in and around the MNGOP. It’s a wonder we’ve gotten our clocked cleaned by the DFL of late. There’s more focuse on complaining about one of our own playing hard, albeit a poorly exucted in this instance, politics than going after the other side. I have no problems with what Marty did and I wish more in the MNGOP would take a big swing, even if they miss once in awhile. I don’t use the twitter or have a radio show of which I feel the need to act like a little b*tch on so maybe my opionion doesn’t count here. So be it. Thank the Good Lord for primaries where folks like me can have a say.

  7. Pingback: Daily Brief: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 - DFL SD 48 ~ Democrats of Southern Minnetonka and Eden Prairie

  8. I was a seated delegate at the gop convention and in fact Seifert told them to leave because he knew that because of the similarities between Thompson and Johnson the delegates had the easy decision if one of them were to withdraw and knowing this he played dirty politics and made this about himself and not about the Republican party as a whole; he also lost more than half of his supporters because of this act and shouldn’t be considered to be the GOP candidate coming in August. I would also like to say I was one of the youngest delegates at the convention and we as the GOP need to start ushering in the next generation of grass roots conservatives for the Republican party because the endorsement process is an important aspect of the voting process.

  9. Denise Rene says:

    This was my first political convention- I have been to and helped plan over 100 conventions similar in size or much larger. If this is the idea of a well run and efficient event- by political standards no wonder our country is in such a mess. Marty released his delegates, he did not tell them to go home. Many stayed and voted- the walk out started when a chairman got up and threw a temper tatrum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.