VERNDALE-- Republican activists Saturday endorsed John Poston, mayor of Lake Shore, as their candidate for Minnesota House of Representatives District 9A.

Having failed to secure the endorsement, Larry Lundblad, Central Lakes College president, dropped out of the race and said he'd support Poston.

Incumbent Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, announced in February he would not run for re-election.

About 150 Republicans from everywhere within Minnesota Senate District 9, which includes House Districts 9A and 9B, met in the Verndale High School's auditorium to endorse their preferred GOP candidates.

It took two rounds of balloting for Poston to gain the endorsement, as he lacked the required supermajority of votes on the first ballot.

Poston said after the event he was both excited and relieved.

"I am just over the moon," he said. "Ready to get onto the next piece now, which is obviously working with the public and trying to win the election in November."

Lundblad, who said he had promised earlier in the race to abide by the endorsement, was disappointed but praised the people who had helped him with his campaign.

"Somebody's gotta win, somebody's gotta lose," he said. "Unfortunately, this time around, it was my turn to lose."

Incumbents endorsed

Anderson together with Minnesota Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, gave updates on how the 2016 legislative session was going. Gazelka walked through the different tax cut initiatives the GOP was shooting for.

At multiple points during the convention, Kresha brought up a bill he sponsors that would mandate transgender people use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth sex. The bill "protects the privacy of kids," Kresha said.

Kresha and Gazelka were later endorsed by the convention as the preferred candidates for House District 9B and Senate District 9, respectively.

Legislators talk Black Lives Matter

While the balloting process for the 9A endorsement was underway, Gazelka, Anderson and Kresha took the stage to answer audience questions.

Local activist Bill Dian, Anderson's former campaign committee chair, demanded to know how legislators were addressing what he called "Black Fools Matter" and refugees coming into the state.

In response, Gazelka pointed out the work the Legislature had done in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.

One bill would hold future protesters liable for government public safety costs for unlawful assemblies.

Gazelka said he had tweeted his opposition to taking in refugees from the Middle East. The refugee issue must be handled in a way that's both compassionate and effective, he said. Both the refugee controversy and Black Lives Matter are examples of "two cultures clashing," Gazelka said.

"Whether it's the refugee issue and Islam versus Christianity, or whether it's the cultural view that Black Lives Matter has-that's different than what I believe is correct, I believe all lives matter," he said. "And so, how do we handle that?"

Kresha said he had issued a statement criticizing earlier BLM protests, but the statement had been ignored.

"When Black Lives Matter started protesting at the Mall of America, and they tried to shut down the airport, I immediately put out a statement that said, 'Get that group into the homes of North Minneapolis, where you have no fathers, where you have drug abuse,'" he recalled. "'That's where they should be protesting.'"

Anderson said the protests stemmed from a culture of "lawlessness" that starts "right from the very top in Washington." Judges were too lenient with those Minneapolis protesters who had been arrested, he said, so there wasn't enough disincentive not to protest.

"Maybe some of them have nothing better to do," he said. "That's their meal for the day. I can't explain it except for one thing: it's lawlessness on display, and it affects all of us."

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Follow him on Twitter at