Word is that Keith Downey, former legislator and state Republican Party chairman running for governor, is lighting it up on the hustings as he runs hard on an anti-establishment message.

The downside to running an outsider campaign is that Republican lawmakers could play a significant role at the state convention that will determine who gets endorsed by the party. After Downey at a recent forum criticized the Republican Legislature for increasing the state budget, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said on Twitter that he and his colleagues had cut taxes and put more money into roads: “Any GOP candidate for governor attacking that has rocks in his head and will lose badly.”

Historically, Republicans have tended to nominate candidates with ties to their House caucus.

On the DFL side of the big race, some hires by the campaign of Rep. Tim Walz: Clare Verbeten will be deputy political director for the Third, Fourth and Fifth Congressional Districts. She was party affairs director at the DFL. This is a loss for the party. Erik Anderson was named deputy political director for the First and Second Districts and the southern part of the Seventh District. He comes from 2014 Dayton/Smith. Gwenia Fiske­vold will be deputy political director for northern Minnesota. She was with the Senate caucus campaign last year.

These are the front line field marshals that deliver key delegates.

Rep. Mike Sundin has endorsed Rep. Paul Thissen for governor. Sundin is from greater Minnesota and has labor ties. Rep. Erin Murphy announced a bunch of endorsements recently, including Sen. Melisa Franzen and Rep. Mike Freiberg.

The Minnesota Nurses Association, where Murphy was executive director before entering politics, will endorse this month. A rival DFL campaign operative tells me they fear Murphy the most come convention time.

Mark your calendars: AFSCME gubernatorial candidate forum Oct. 6 in Duluth, 1 p.m. It’s one of the final events for the union’s executive director Eliot Seide, who retires in October after being a major presence in organized labor and DFL politics since 1980.

Parties boasting about State Fair merch sales: Matt Pagano at the GOP says sales were up 34 percent and profits 125 percent compared to last year. Apparently new Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan’s retail marketing experience came in handy.

The DFL says it sold nearly 15,000 pieces of merchandise, or more than $120,000 worth.