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Howe receives GOP endorsement

Red Wing Mayor John Howe speaks Saturday to delegates at the Senate District 28 endorsing convention in Lake City. R-E photo by Mike Longaecker

LAKE CITY -- Republican activists selected Red Wing Mayor John Howe to be their party's candidate for Senate District 28.

Howe defeated Cannon Falls auctioneer Rod Johnson and Red Wing salesman Craig Livingstone Saturday during an endorsing convention process that lasted about five hours.

Delegates took three rounds of voting to finalize the endorsement. Livingstone was eliminated after the first ballot - a nearly two-hour process mired in procedural wrangling - when he didn't receive the necessary 10 percent of delegates' votes.

Howe was within seven votes after the second round and eclipsed the necessary 60-percent support margin in Round 3, defeating Johnson 135-75.

"You're going to have a conservative voice in St. Paul," Howe told delegates after receiving the endorsement.

Livingstone and Johnson both said they would abide the endorsement.

"Now let's unite," Johnson said in his concession speech.

Howe's win sets the stage - partially, at least - for the November elections. But who that likely Democratic challenger will be remains to be seen. No Democrats have announced interest in seeking the DFL endorsement for the Senate seat or either House seat.

The race appeared to have energized many in the crowd, which included several Republican politicians.

"We're talking majority," Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said, referring to hopes of a power shift in the long DFL-controlled Senate chamber. "And I don't think that's overly optimistic."

See more on the story in Wednesday's print edition.