Republican delegates have endorsed former Minnesota State Rep. Dan Severson as candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State.

With applause, the crowd unanimously stood to back Severson moments after former State Sen. John Howe withdrew his name from consideration about 90 minutes after delegates placed their first ballot.

Severson, who lost to DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in 2010, will now take on a DFL candidate for the seat left vacant when Ritchie steps down at the end of the year. DFL State Reps. Debra Hilstrom and Steve Simon are vying for the Democratic nomination.

"I want to say thank you so much for being here, to do this important task," Severson said, saying that in the field, as Secretary of State his campaign focus will be on voter ID requirements and business. "We're going to clean up the elections system in this state so in the future, we can win elections by fair votes," he said.

Howe, flanked by his wife and glum-faced children, thanked backers for the encouragement and support while withdrawing while praising Severson and pledging to back him.

"I supported him four years ago and I support him now," Howe said. "I hope that we can all work together and win this seat come November."