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Despite 23 Votes, Minn. GOP Lacks House Candidate

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MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Republicans in southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District will meet again to try to endorse a candidate to take on Democratic incumbent Tim Walz.

Neither state Sen. Mike Parry, of Waseca, nor former state Rep. Allen Quist, of St. Peter, gained the required 60 percent of delegates after 14 hours and 23 rounds of balloting that ended just before 2 a.m. Sunday. Quist had 137 votes on the last ballot to 126 for Parry with 19 blank ballots. Parry led in the early rounds of voting Saturday before Quist pulled ahead for a couple rounds. Then the lead swung back to Parry, then to Quist.

As the exhausted delegates headed for the doors, both candidates said they would have been happy to keep going. But Kato Ballroom Manager Larry Bowers told The Free Press that city liquor ordinances required him to shut down at 2 a.m., even though he wasn’t serving liquor.

“I can’t afford to lose my liquor license,” Bowers said. “… My bosses would fire me.”

The vote to reconvene later was 131-108, down from 282 delegates present when the convention began more than 17 hours earlier. The district central committee will meet in two to three weeks to set a date.

A motion to forego endorsing candidate and leave it up to primary voters failed.

Longtime party activist Steve Perkins, of Luverne, said the 1st District’s old record for ballots was 18 rounds in 1974, when delegates finally endorsed Tom Hagedorn over Arlen Erdahl.

Quist, who served three terms in the Minnesota House, lost the Republican endorsement for the congressional seat in 2010 to Randy Demmer. He also made two unsuccessful runs for governor in 1994 and 1998. Parry, who’s one of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s staunchest critics in the Legislature, won his seat in a special election in January 2010 and was re-elected that November.

In the 4th District, which includes St. Paul, businessman Tony Hernandez won the GOP endorsement to challenge incumbent Democrat Betty McCollum. Hernandez secured the party’s backing on the first ballot in a three-way contest with Ron Seiford and Gene Rechtzigel at a convention in Vadnais Heights, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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