The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 19, 2013

Pack of Democrats could be whittled down -- or not



He indicated he still believes that it’s preferable for all Democrats to rally around an endorsed candidate, if activists meeting today at North Mankato Fire Station No. 2 can reach consensus on a candidate.

“I think we’re going to have to try to unite,” Johnson said.

Playing catch-up

The Democratic candidates initially indicated without equivocation that they would abide by the party endorsement, but that was before local DFL leaders were caught off guard by the compressed special election schedule announced by Gov. Mark Dayton on Jan. 8. Party officials still hadn’t set a date for their endorsing convention and needed to wait at least 10 days due to party rules requiring that much notification to delegates.

The result? The candidate filing period, which ended Tuesday, would be past before the convention was held. That meant non-endorsed candidates couldn’t follow the traditional practice of withdrawing their name from the ballot in deference to the endorsed candidate chosen by party activists.

“I’m of the opinion that we put ourselves in a difficult position,” Karl Johnson said.

By contrast, the Republican endorsing convention was held Jan. 10, so the three candidates could delay filing for the seat until after Republican delegates stated their preference. When Quist won the endorsement, he filed and the losing candidates didn’t — meaning Quist is the only Republican candidate and no primary election is needed.

Independence Party nominee Tim Gieseke is the only IP candidate, so he — like Quist — can focus on the big prize on Feb. 12 while Democrats spend nearly all of January attempting to settle on their choice.

Quist gets Bachmann backing

Quist said after his endorsement that the biggest disadvantage of a contested primary is that donors are reluctant to give to any of the candidates until a nominee is elected by primary voters.

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