Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt will face a political challenge even before this year's legislative session begins.

On Saturday, three days before lawmakers return to the Capitol for the 2014 session, Daudt's Republican activists will hold an endorsing convention where they will decide whether to back him for another term or support his opponent, Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin.

"I’m not necessarily worried about it but you can’t take anything for granted," Daudt, R-Crown, said this week. He said he has been talking to local delegates in House District 31A and believes he will end up with the endorsement.

Korin said he, too, has been reaching out to local Republicans.

"The people have lost faith in what our side of the fence stands for," he said. "I don’t have the right to complain unless I get involved."

Korin said he would drop out of the race if he does not get the endorsement. Daudt said he, too, was “planning to abide” by the endorsement. When a reporter suggested that left the door open to a primary run, Daudt said: “I feel that I will get the endorsement.”

After local officials could not agree on when to hold the endorsing convention, the state Republican Party settled the dispute, as the party's rules allow, said Republican Party Chair Keith Downey. The state executive board decided on the February date, rather than the March date some preferred.

When there are such disputes among local officers and the districts cross congressional boundaries, the state party steps in to help. Downey said the only time the state party has stepped in this year was for the House District 31A convention.

“There have been no other requests for convention date issues to the state executive committee,” Downey said. The chairman said that he talked to two congressional district chairs, local Republicans and Daudt about the date. He said only one of the people who talked to favored the March date.

Downey said he spoke to Daudt largely on fact-finding regarding the legislative session. He said he did not talk directly to Korin about the date dispute.

The convention will be held at Zion Lutheran Church, Daudt’s home church with which he has been very involved. Both Downey and Daudt said that location choice would not give the sitting leader an edge.

“I don’t think the location has anything to do with (a) home court advantage,” Daudt said.

The endorsement challenge is not the first time Daudt, who has led House Republicans since 2013, has had trouble in his district this year. He thwarted a vote of no confidence by local leaders last month.

Photo: (Left) House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt//source: Star Tribune photo by Glen Stubbe; (Right) Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin//source: Mark Korin for State House website

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