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Crow Wing GOP straw poll favors Ortman, Seifert

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BAXTER — Crow Wing County Republicans favored Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, for U.S. senator and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert for governor as they met in caucuses Tuesday night.

Vote totals in the U.S. Senate GOP straw poll straw poll were Ortman, 64; St. Louis County Board Chair Chris Dahlberg, 30; Mike McFadden, 21; Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, 9; Monti Moreno, 2; and Harold Shudlick, 1.

In the gubernatorial in Crow Wing County the totals were Seifert, 62; Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, 27; Dave Thompson, 20; Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, 16; Scott Honour, 7; and Rob Farnsworth, 2.

Meanwhile, no GOP candidate has surfaced yet to challenge Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, for the House 10A seat. Chris Kellett Walz of Brainerd, the Republican candidate who ran for that seat in 2012, said she hadn’t yet decided whether she would make another bid for the Legislature.

Two other previous Republican House District 10A candidates were at the Baxter caucus, but neither former Brainerd City Council member Kevin Goedker nor Kurt Martin expressed any interest in running for the Legislature this year.

At Forestview Middle School about 60 Republicans from Brainerd, Baxter, Red, White and Blue precincts, Crow Wing Daggett, Fort Ripley Long Lake, Oak Lawn and St. Mathias townships turned out for caucuses. Republicans were also meeting in Crosslake, Crosby and Nisswa. Republican officials said turnout was lower than in past years. Sue Hilgart, convener of the Baxter GOP meeting attributed the low numbers to the sub-zero weather.

Statements on behalf of Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates were heard before those attending broke into smaller precinct meetings.

Kellett Walz addressed all the assembled Republicans and urged the GOP faithful to stay united this year. She and her husband, former Rep. Dale Walz, spoke on behalf of former Rep. Marty Seifert for governor and also read a letter from Stewart Mills III, a candidate for the 8th Congressional District.

Hilgart spoke in favor of Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a gubernatorial candidate. Steve Suer of Brainerd spoke in favor of U.S. Senate candidate Chris Dahlberg. Dahlberg is chair of the St. Louis County Board.

Five people turned out for the Republican Party’s Blue Precinct in Unorganized Territory of Crow Wing County. Their meeting was conducted in a science lab at Forestview. Three were willing to be delegates at the March 8 county convention, but not without a pep talk from the precinct chair, Dawn Plested.

“This is our only chance to shape the direction of our party,” she said.

Plested also recommended the Republicans consider the realistic chances their candidate might have at the polls in November.

“I think it would be fairly wise to consider electability,” Plested said.

None of the Blue Precinct members had any resolutions to offer for the Republican platform.

Although it represented only a miniscule slice of Republican opinion the Blue Precinct favored St. Louis County Boar Chair Chris Dahlberg for governor (3 votes) to Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, (1) and Howard Shudlick (1).

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860