Newcomer claims lead in 3rd District DFL race

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2008 - 8:02 AM

Ashwin Madia has more delegates than state Sen. Terri Bonoff, but neither has clinched the endorsement.

In the DFL race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, political newcomer Ashwin Madia has scored a major upset over state Sen. Terri Bonoff.

When voting wrapped up Saturday in 11 state Senate districts of the Third Congressional District, Madia claimed 81.5 delegates to the 63 claimed by Bonoff.

With 95 votes needed to win the party's endorsement at the party's congressional district convention April 12, those totals leave both candidates short of the 95 needed to clinch it.

But the results show that Madia has consistently outpolled Bonoff among convention delegates, winning all but two of the Senate districts. At the same time, Bonoff has far outpaced him among the district's superdelegates (legislators and party officers who live in the district).

Although the campaign's delegate-counting methods differ, the political blog MNPublius on Saturday calculated that Bonoff has won 15 superdelegates, Madia has won two and two remain uncommitted.

"We've got to work on them the next month or so," said Chris Truscott, Madia's spokesman. "No one outside the campaign saw this coming."

But the Bonoff campaign remains optimistic. "While we might be behind, there is still time on the clock," her campaign manager, Ken Sanguin, wrote in an e-mail.

A third DFLer, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland dropped out of the race last week; state Rep. Erik Paulsen is the only Republican candidate running.

Madia, a lawyer from Plymouth, is an Iraq war veteran who has never run for elective office. Bonoff, a former business executive, has represented Minnetonka in the state Senate since she won a special election in 2005.

Ramstad's unexpected decision to retire after nine terms set off a scramble for the only open seat in the Minnesota delegation. Although it has been in GOP hands for decades, the changing demographics of the western suburbs have prompted analysts to say it's no longer a guaranteed GOP lock.

When Ramstad announced his retirement in September, he warned that the Third District "is not a safe Republican district."

Bob von Sternberg • 612-673-7184

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