ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Republicans are gathering in Rochester this weekend for their state convention to coalesce support among the party faithful for GOP candidates for statewide office.

“Our path to electoral success in November begins with endorsements this weekend,” said David Hann, the GOP Party chairman.

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The task for the more than 2,000 delegates at the convention is endorsing candidates for governor, auditor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Each candidate needs to get 60% of the delegates’ support to win outright; If no one reaches that threshold, it triggers another round of balloting.

(credit: CBS)

The party is hoping to break a 16-year losing streak in statewide elections in Minnesota. Republicans see an opportunity to win again with rising inflation and public safety weighing on voters, and President Joe Biden facing low approval ratings. Midterm elections generally favor the party that isn’t in the White House.

As of Friday evening, Ryan Wilson earned the endorsement in an uncontested race for state auditor, and Kim Crockett won the endorsement for secretary of state.

Republicans will also set out to pick a challenger to DFL incumbent Gov. Tim Walz in November. Over the last two decades, the endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate went on to be the eventual nominee. The voting for the endorsement could happen Saturday on day two of the convention.

Those running for governor include former state senator and physician Scott Jenson; Neil Shah, a dermatologist; Paul Gazelka, a state senator who was recently the GOP leader in the chamber; Kendall Qualls, a business executive; Mike Murphy, the mayor of Lexington; and Rich Stanek, former Hennepin County sheriff.

Hann said every candidate seeking the endorsement vowed to abide by the will of the delegates and drop out to stave off an expensive primary fight.

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“We can’t expect to prevail in a general election if we must wait until after the primary to begin campaigning against Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Steve Simon, Julia Blaha and their DFL allies,” Hann said.

The two-day convention began Friday morning and it got off to a delayed start. There was a contentious debate over how the delegates should endorse: by an electronic remote or though paper balloting, which Hann said would take long to count votes and might mean no endorsement in some races.

Those against voting electronic votes said it was “hypocritical” for the party to endorse this way when Republicans have raised concern about the integrity of the votes cast in the 2020 election. (There is no evidence widespread voter fraud or that Biden stole the election.) Ultimately, the delegates approved using the electronic voting system.

The DFL state convention will also be in Rochester next weekend.

Who Has Received GOP Endorsements So Far?

State auditor: Ryan Wilson

Secretary of state: Kim Crockett

Attorney General: Jim Schultz

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This story is developing and will be updated.

Caroline Cummings