Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson on Saturday got an early boost from Republican activists in a straw poll of gubernatorial candidates.
Out of 409 votes, Johnson netted 143. State Sen. Dave Thompson, of Lakeville, was a close second with 111 votes.
The votes were non-binding but give the winners bragging rights as they continue to run.
Among the five men who spoke to the Republican gathering in Blaine, the two have made clear they will drop out of the race if they do not get Republicans' convention endorsement next spring. Both received big props from the GOP activists for making that pledge.
Coming in third in the race was a man who was not on the ballot. Marty Seifert, who ran for governor in 2010, got 75 write in votes.
Seifert, who is considering running, appeared at the gathering but did not speak from the stage and largely stayed in his seat throughout the event. He won a 2009 Republican gubernatorial straw poll but lost the party's spring 2010 endorsement to Tom Emmer.
Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers (31 votes), Hibbing teacher Robert Farnsworth (26 votes) and businessman Scott Honour (16 votes) finished well behind the pack. Honour and Zellers have run significant campaigns but have made clear they will run in a primary regardless of whom Republican convention activists pick at their convention.
Updated on 10/28/2013 to add the below chart: