Majority leader wins battle

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2012 - 7:01 PM

Matt Dean prevailed over Rep. Carol McFarlane to win the GOP endorsement in a contest made necessary by redistricting.

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House Majority Leader Matt Dean and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Julianne Ortman

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House Majority Leader Matt Dean, a leader of the Republican takeover of the Minnesota House and of its battles with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, survived a GOP endorsement battle with a fellow Republican House member on Saturday.

Dean, R-Dellwood, second in command to Speaker Kurt Zellers, defeated Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake, in a hotly contested endorsement battle at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake.

Republican delegates to the newly drawn House District 38B, which threw both candidates into the same district, gave Dean the needed 60 percent majority on the first ballot. The count was 70 for Dean to 42 for McFarlane.

The endorsement means Dean, not McFarlane, has the party seal of approval headed into the primary and general elections in the summer and fall. McFarlane signed a pledge to support the endorsed candidate but said after the vote that she was not yet ruling out running in a primary.

"I have a lot of thinking to do," she said. She noted that if she were to challenge Dean in a primary, the party would assess her a $2,500 penalty.

Neither candidate chose this battle. Dean, in his fourth term, and McFarlane, in her third, represented neighboring east metro districts until a judicial redistricting plan redrew the lines in February. That decision put both of them in newly drawn district 38B, which include all or parts of White Bear Lake and White Bear Township, North Oaks, Hugo and Dellwood.

"We have two people running today who both should be serving in the Minnesota Legislature," Dean said.

He cited his work upholding the Republican-controlled Legislature's position in a budget battle with Dayton last year, which resulted in a 20-day partial government shutdown. "We got stronger and stronger the more they pushed," Dean said. "We won, Dayton lost."

McFarlane characterized the battle as one of the "political machine versus the grassroots." She said she prided herself on working with all sides to get things done. "I'm approachable, I'm fair, I'm honest," she told delegates. "I'm a person for the people. I'm one of you."

Dean said of McFarlane: "I know that her public service is never going to be done."

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, threw a charge into the proceedings by attacking Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul for opposing the Stillwater bridge project, saying Republicans can unseat her in November. She also attacked President Obama, accusing him of not doing enough to protect the United States from Iran and Islamic terrorists.

"He is the most dangerous president we have ever had when it comes to keeping this nation safe," Bachmann said.

Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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