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Meyer quits race; supports Demmer

By Matthew Stolle

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Mark Meyer withdrew from the race for Congress in the 1st Congressional District today and threw his support behind state Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield, narrowing the Republican field from four candidates to three.

It was the first major development in the 1st Congressional contest as candidates jockey for position to run in 2008. Demmer, a three-term state representative, sought to take full advantage of Meyer’s support by holding joint press conferences with Meyer across the district today.

In a press statement released this morning, Meyer, chairman of Lake Crystal Welcome Memorial School Board and an actuary, said he had demonstrated during the campaign that he was a "credible candidate," but was unable to raise the money necessary to win the GOP endorsement and the election.

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"It was a wonderful experience to meet people all over the First District and to learn firsthand about the issues that affect America. However, I seriously underestimated the amount of time and effort that must be devoted to fundraising," he said this morning.

Meyer added that he had gotten a chance to get know all three Republican candidates during the campaign and came away convinced that "Randy Demmer is clearly the best person to truly represent the First District in Washington."

It was unclear how Meyer’s withdrawal and endorsement of Demmer would impact the race. Depending on who you asked, answers ranged from negligible to the unknown. With Meyer’s withdrawal, three candidates are left standing for the GOP endorsement: Demmer, state Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna and Brian Davis, a doctor at Mayo Clinic. The seat is currently held by Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from Mankato.

"I don’t think it’s a factor at all, because I don’t know if he had over two delegates in the entire district that were for him," Day said this morning. "On the polling that was done, from what we gathered, he just didn’t have any support,"

Davis said it was difficult to assess the impact, but his attitude is that every delegate vote counts. He noted that Meyer has been a delegate in past Republican Party conventions, and if he serves as one in the 1st Congressional District convention, "this is important, whether it’s one or 10 or more."

Davis also noted that he had secured the endorsement of former GOP Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, and that his campaign planned to stick to its campaign message.

Duane Quam, chairman of the Olmsted County Republican Party, said Meyer’s endorsement would benefit Demmer, but called the endorsement contest a "very competitive three-way race."

He called Meyer a "quality, respected person and candidate," but "because of the demands now on candidates’ time, money and impact on family, it is understandable that he has decided to make that choice."

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