A three-way tie in the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate means all six candidates will continue to the second ballot. St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg narrowly led the pack with 25 percent of the votes, followed closely by businessman Mike McFadden and State Sen. Julianne Ortman. Below are the results:
Chris Dahlberg: 497 votes, 25 percent
Mike McFadden: 458 votes, 23 percent
Julianne Ortman: 447 votes, 22 percent
Phillip Parrish: 323 votes, 16 percent
Jim Abeler: 133 votes, 6.7 percent
Monti Moreno: 112 votes, 5.6 percent
The first ballot results arrived about 90 minutes after the six candidates who presented their case to more than 2,000 delegates Friday at the State’s Republican Convention. Each introduced by mostly slickly-produced campaign videos, the candidates had 20 minutes to present their case to delegates. No clear favorite was clear from their response, although businessman Mike McFadden and State Rep. Jim Abeler, who have vowed to run in a primary if they don’t receive the endorsement, were met with a few shouts from the crowd.
Below is a sampling of their speeches:
Chris Dahlberg: The St. Louis County Commissioner emphasized that Republicans need to win the Iron Range in order to defeat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
“We need to turn Franken’s blue counties to Republican red.” Said Dahlberg, whose low-key presentation was met warmly by delegates, in part because of his pledge to abide by their endorsement.
Jim Abeler: The retiring state representative from Anoka touted his 16 years in the House dealing with health issues as a key reason why he’s best qualified to defeat Al Franken, who he called “A failure and an embarrassment.” Abeler said his strength lies not just in picking up the Republican vote, but also Independents and even Democrats.
“Not everyone can do that.” He said.
Phillip Parrish: Despite his low budget, the relative-unknown educator and Naval Reserve officer wowed the crowd with a forceful speech condemning Washington Democrats for the “lies” surrounding last year’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi and defense of the Second Amendment.
“We can defend our gun rights because come on, man, come and take it from me.” Parrish said.
Mike McFadden: The investment banker walked to the podium with a mixed reception, but the crowd eventually warmed to McFadden as his enthusiasm grew. Despite his success, McFadden stressed his humble upbringing and said his status as a Washington outsider is exactly what Minnesota needs instead of career politicians.
“I believe in you, not Washington,” McFadden said. “We are at risk of losing the American dream and I will not let that happen.”
McFadden reflected his campaign’s strong budget by ending the speech with fireworks, streamers and a balloon drop.
Monti Moreno: Arguably the most entertaining candidate, the Washington County bison farmer entered following a video that invoked Ronald Reagan, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and a clip of him firing a rifle. He bounded across the stage to the theme from “Rocky” and told the crowd he’d dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, and “Kick some donkey ass.”
Julianne Ortman: On the day after announcing that her campaign raised $1 million, Ortman, a lawyer and State Senator from Chanhassen, vowed to repeal Obamacare if she were elected. She stood on point to her message to unify the party to defeat Franken.
“We have a plan in Minnesota. Keep your doctor…” Ortman said, cueing to the crowd.
“Change your Senator!” the crowd yelled in response.