Chanhassen Mayor Denny Laufenburger was elected Saturday as the new chairman of the Carver County Republicans following a contested convention.
Laufenburger, a first-term mayor, defeated Vicki Ernst, the current deputy chairwoman. A first ballot deadlocked before swaying in his favor during the second round.
When he woke up Saturday morning, Laufenburger said he intended to run for a state delegate position representing District 2, but was repeatedly asked to consider becoming a candidate for local party chair.
State Sen. Scott Jensen, who represents most of Carver County, nominated Laufenburger from the floor.
“I told him I would follow the will of the people,” said Laufenburger, who will maintain his mayorship while serving as chair.
In his new role, he will work to mobilize Republicans in a county that has enthusiastically embraced the label as the “most conservative county in Minnesota.” Laufenburger said one of his primary goals will be to help nominate — and elect — “a strong Republican candidate for governor in 2018.”
After four years on the Chanhassen City Council and a stint as deputy mayor, Laufenburger was elected as mayor in 2014 with 55 percent of the vote. He beat former City Councilman Mark Senn, and George Murray, who did not actively campaign.
Before politics, Laufenburger worked nearly 40 years in executive sales and public relations for the computer industry. Laufenburger now serves on an assortment of boards, including those for amateur baseball and high school coaches.
“My wife says, ‘You’re busier now than you ever were working,’ ” said Laufenburger, who lauded Chanhassen for its quality of life. “People feel safe in our town. Public safety is one of the hallmarks that makes Chanhassen an attractive spot for people to move.”
In recent months, Laufenburger was a fierce advocate for the opening of Prince’s Paisley Park museum at late rocker’s recording studio. He proclaimed the museum’s opening, Oct. 28, 2016, as Paisley Park Day to celebrate Prince’s “legacy with the world.”