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Weekend gatherings adjust Republican House races

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Republicans Updated: February 23, 2014 - 10:11 AM

A Republican lawmaker dropped his re-election bid in the face of a challenge from within his party over his backing of same-sex marriage.

Republican state Rep. David FitzSimmons, one of just a handful of GOP House members to vote for gay marriage legalization last year, announced his retirement Saturday during a fight for endorsement from local activists. He was challenged by Republican Eric Lucero and others. Much of Lucero's opposition to FitzSimmons focused on the lawmaker's vote to legalize same-sex marriage. Lucero won overwhelming backing at a Saturday convention.

Rep. David Fitz Simmons

Rep. David FitzSimmons

FitzSimmons, long a Republican operative and activist in the most conservative circles, entered the Saturday fight with support from Republican state heavyweights, including House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, gubernatorial candidates Kurt Zellers, Scott Honour and others. But he lacked support from the Albertville area activists that made the party's endorsement decision.

Meanwhile, across the Twin Cities, Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, was endorsed by his local activists for re-election. Like FitzSimmons, he was one of the few Republican lawmakers to vote to legalize same sex marriage last year. Unlike FitzSimmons, his endorsement was not threatened.

Rep. Pat Garofalo

Rep. Pat Garofalo

A majority of voters in Farmington, like those in Albertville, had voted to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in 2012.

Also shaking up the politics in the southern Minnesota suburbs, Republican Mary Liz Holberg, of Lakeville, announced she would not run for a ninth term. First elected in 1998, Holberg  rose to lead the powerful Ways and Means committee when Republicans held the House.

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg

Holberg championed Republican House members on issues of fiscal restraint and, in recent years, led a sometimes bipartisan effort to protect Minnesotans' privacy. Upon the news of her retirement, Republicans and Democrats expressed admiration for Holberg and her work on social media.

She won her 2012 re-election with 59 percent of the vote in heavily Republican-dominated Lakeville.

"She is one of the most respected members of the House," House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said on Twitter Saturday.

On Saturday, Daudt, R-Crown, had his own battle to fight. He faced -- and quickly fended off  -- an endorsement challenge from Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin in his district. Daudt won his local activists' backing for his re-election bid on Saturday

Rep. Kurt Daudt

Rep. Kurt Daudt

Daudt had said last week that he expected to win endorsement.

"But you can’t take anything for granted," he said.

All photos are credited to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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