Up to 141 delegates to decide fate of GOP endorsement race — if they can

by Jim Boyle

Editor

Republican delegates for Minnesota House District 30A will gather one more time Saturday, June 2, in hopes of selecting a candidate to run for office.

The group deadlocked the last time when Chris Kumpula and Nick Zerwas went six rounds without a winner emerging.

The convention will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at River of Life Church at 21695 Elk Lake Road N.W., Elk River, (County Road 1) north of the Elk River Golf Club.

Nick Zerwas and Chris Kumpula deadlocked at the first convention. The second is on Saturday at River of Life in Elk River. There are 141 delegates who will have a say in the decision if they show up.

Conventions don’t normally come with an end time, but that was one of the stipulations that was made at an executive committee meeting to decide how to proceed. It was added out of fear that another deadlock would surface without an end in sight.

At the first endorsing convention on April 24, there were three candidates to start with — Kumpula, Zerwas and Chad Westberg — but the 112 delegates in attendance couldn’t break a stalemate that developed between Zerwas and Kumpula.

It was clear after six ballots neither was going to get the 60 percent support (68 votes) 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 one, that left the next steps in the hands of the Senate District 30 Executive Committee.

The group met April 28  at night at Boondox Bar and Grill in Otsego, and decided on a 5-4 vote to hold another convention that will be limited to another six ballots, or four hours tops.

The committee had  two options. The group could call another endorsing convention, as it did in the hope that someone would get 60 percent of the vote and an endorsed candidate would emerge. It could have also elected to let the matter be resolved in a primary election.

All three candidates — Kumpula, Zerwas and Chad Westberg — along with a half-dozen delegates were allowed to give their thoughts to the executive committee members before they  voted to have another convention.

“It’s good,” Kumpula said when asked for a reaction to the vote. “I believe in the convention process more than most people, so I am happy with the decision.”

The other candidates were also asked.

“I’m excited to keep working with delegates and committed to get my supporters there and work to earn that 60 percent needed and go on to bring my positive message out to the district,” Zerwas said.

Westberg said: “I fully accept it. My concern was a technical one, a math concern (that another convention will still fail to produce an endorsed candidate).

“But we all agreed by this endorsement process. I fully support it. I think the delegates are pretty smart people. I think they will come up with the right decision.”

With the closing of the first convention, the race  is once again open for Westberg — and anyone else, for that matter — who decides to seek the endorsement of the newly designed House District 30A seat that includes both Elk River and Big Lake.

If the delegates reach another stalemate after six votes or four hours, the matter would move to a primary.

Even with an endorsement, a candidate could choose to turn it into a primary.

If all 141 delegates showed up for an endorsing convention this Saturday, it would take 85 votes to endorse a candidate. It’s highly unlikely that all 141 delegates will show up.

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