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Top county caucus votes align with rest of state

More than 250 Carlton County residents participated Tuesday, Feb. 6, in precinct caucuses around the county — the first step of a political process that will end with the general election in November.

A total of 58 Republicans gathered at five locations to conduct party business and participate in a straw ballot vote for governor, which Jeff Johnson won. Vote tallies follow:

• Jeff Johnson, 26

• Keith Downey, 8

• Mary Stephens, 8

• Lance Johnson, 1

• Phillip Parrish, 1

There were 14 undecided votes.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party reported more than 200 people at nine caucus locations around the county. They also participated in a non-binding straw ballot vote for governor candidates with the following results:

• Tim Walz, 53

• Rebecca Otto, 48

• Erin Murphy, 30

• Chris Coleman, 25

• Paul Thissen, 18

• Tina Liebling, 5

There were 42 uncommitted votes.

Carlton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sheda said the local participants also took the opportunity to endorse individuals running for other state and federal offices. They endorsed Pete Stauber for Congressional District 8, as well as Jim Newberger, Karin Housley and Robert Barnheiser for the two U.S. Senate seats up for election in November. They also also endorsed Jeff Dotseth for Minnesota House District 11A, Doug Wardlow for attorney general and Pam Myhra for state auditor.

"Several Democrats arrived at our location. We tried to convert them, but they graciously declined," Sheda joked.

He added that the Republicans also selected delegates to attend the county convention at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College from 8:30 a.m. to noon March 10.

Carlton County DFL Chairman Dan Reed said the DFL caucuses also selected delegates to go to the District 11A convention.

"That starts the process to elect delegates to the Eighth District Convention (when we will endorse a Congressional candidate) and the state convention, where we will endorse two Senate candidates and a governor candidate," Reed said.

As of Wednesday morning with 72 percent of districts reporting, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz was also the statewide leader for the DFL governor candidates, with 31 percent of the votes, followed by State Auditor Rebecca Otto at almost 20 percent.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a Detroit Lakes native, was the clear Republican governor race winner with 45 percent. The next closest candidate was former Republican state Chairman Keith Downey with 15 percent. DFL candidate Thissen announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the race after a poor showing statewide, where he picked up less than 5 percent of caucus votes.

The straw polls are non-binding.