After a long, grueling night that ended in the wee hours of Friday, Republicans were scheduled to be back inside the Minneapolis Convention Center at 9 a.m. to undertake their main event: endorsing their candidate for governor.

Convention delegates dispensed with the endorsements for the other constitutional office candidates, finishing up after 1 a.m. by giving the nod to Pat Anderson to try to retake her old job as state auditor.

Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer have faced off to head the party's ticket this fall. Both have said they will abide by the endorsement and drop out of the race if they lose. Four other candidates are in the mix, but aren't expected to get significant support from the delegates.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who Seifert and Emmer hope to succeed, is staying out of the fray until an endorsee emerges from the convention.

Emmer generated the most buzz during the first day of the convention when he snagged the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which he hoped would bolster his bona fides with the party's conservative base. 

Emmer is considerably less well-known than Seifert, the House Minority Leader who is considered to have a far more robust ground game in the effort to corral convention delegates.

Seifert downplayed Palin's nod to his rival, but Emmer called her "the gold standard of grassroots politics in this country." His hospitality suite featured a large photo of Emmer, his wife and three of his children with Palin and her husband, taken during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"I think it could be a big game changer," said state Rep. Tom Hackbarth, an Emmer supporter.

Although it's not clear when balloting for the endorsement will begin, the process is expected to last much of the day.

Regardless of the outcome, convention delegates plan to hold a "unity rally" Saturday.

 

 

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