Endorsing convention closed after Kumpula and Zerwas deadlock; Next step in hands of executive committee

by Jim Boyle


It came down to two candidates for House District 30A portion of the Senate District 30 Republican endorsing convention this past Saturday.

But that’s as far as the 112 delegates in attendance could get it.

It was clear after six ballots neither Chris Kumpula or Nick Zerwas was going to get 60 percent support needed to walk away with an endorsement.

The delegates agreed to close the convention at Salk Middle School in Elk River with no endorsement. Without an one, that leaves next steps in the hands of the Senate District 30 Executive Committee and other GOP leaders.

The committee has  two options, according to Ron Touchette, the newly elected chair of the group.

Touchette said the group can call another endorsing convention in the hope that someone would get 60 percent of the vote and an endorsed candidate would emerge. It could also elect to let the matter be resolved in a primary election, he said.

Nick Zerwas and Chris Kumpula answered questions from delegates, but it was clear after six rounds of balloting at the House District 30A endorsing convention nothing was going to break their deadlock.

No matter how they proceed, the situation re-opens the race to Chad Westberg — and anyone else for that matter — who decided to seek the endorsement of the newly designed House District 30A seat that includes both Elk River and Big Lake.

Touchette told the Star News he did not know what the group would decide but suggested things have a way of working themselves out.

The executive committee will meet Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. at Boondox Bar and Grill in Otsego.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer won the Senate District 30 Republican endorsement on a unanimous vote of the delegates from House District 30A and 30B in attendance. She was unopposed.

Three people sought the House District 30A endorsement, including Westberg who was eliminated after two rounds of voting.

Westberg got 12 votes in the first round and was forced out of the balloting in the second round after failing to get at least 10 percent of the vote. He got five votes in the second ballot.

Kumpula had as many as 60 votes (twice), and he had as few as 56 and 58 votes in the last four rounds of voting.

Zerwas had between 48 and 51 votes in the last four rounds of balloting.

It takes 60 percent of the vote to win an endorsement. It would have taken 68 votes to achieve the 60 percent needed to win this past Saturday.

If all 141 delegates showed up for an endorsing convention, it would take 85 votes to endorse a candidate.

Kiffmeyer, Zerwas and Kumpala resumed campaigning on Sunday at the Elk River Business and Energy Expo at Elk River High School.  Kiffmeyer and Zerwas shared a booth at the Expo and Kumpala roamed the school.

Some predict another convention would produce another deadlock, and are advocating to send the matter to a primary. Others are pushing for another convention, arguing that’s what was decided when the endorsing convention was closed.

There’s expected to be a crowd at Boondox for the meeting.