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Republicans Seek To Differentiate Themselves Ahead Of Primary

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four Republicans say they will run in the August primary for Minnesota governor.

That’s after the GOP convention last weekend endorsed Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson for governor, and Mike McFadden for the U.S. Senate.

Johnson officially filed for office on Monday, and immediately pivoted to the next challenge — defeating fellow Republicans running against him in a primary.

“We can actually bring in new voters from every region of the state,” said Johnson, “and that’s what we are going to need to beat Mark Dayton. And I think that’s the message going forward to Republicans.”

Johnson will face three Republicans in the August 12 primary, all of whom sought to separate themselves from the others.

Former House Republican leader Marty Seifert is branding himself as “the maverick.”

“I am the anti-establishment candidate,” said Seifert, a former state lawmaker and GOP minority leader. “I always have been. I always will be.”

Businessman Scott Honour says he’s the only candidate who’s never served in government, and that gives him a fresh perspective.

“I think they are all good guys, but they’re political insiders,” he said. “And they’ve been part of the leadership that continues to spend more money.”

Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who is also running in the primary, said he believes a contested primary is actually good for the party.

“By going through the primary, it makes you a better candidate,” said Zellers, who, like Honour, did not seek endorsement at the GOP convention in Rochester last weekend. “You are out there talking not just with Republicans but Independents and Democrats who want to see the mines open and see jobs come back to Minnesota.”

Minnesota Republicans haven’t had a serious primary challenge in 20 years…when Republicans denied the endorsement to their own Republican, Gov. Arne Carlson.

Carlson later won the primary, and re-election, by a wide margin.

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