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Red Wing mayor secures Republican nomination for state Senate

LAKE CITY -- John Howe locked down the Republican endorsement for state Senate District 28 on Saturday, besting a three-man field at the party's convention.

Howe, Red Wing's mayor, said he will push for a reduction in government spending, as well as a focus on family values, which he said included pro-life and anti-gay marriage views.

He beat out Rod Johnson of Cannon Falls and Craig Livingstone of Red Wing in voting by delegates who attended Saturday's Republican Senate District 28 endorsing convention at Lake City's Lincoln High School.

Howe will be running for the seat held by Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who has announced he will not seek reelection. Murphy has held the seat since 1992 and Republicans on hand stressed the importance of picking up the spot in November.

The DFL has yet to produce a candidate, giving more credence to Republicans who think the district, which includes Wabasha, Goodhue, and Winona counties, is theirs to lose.


Minority leader Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, said conservatives are "optimistic, but not over confident" about their chances.

"The wind is blowing the right way," Senjem said.

Later, he took to the podium at the convention during a vote counting period, revving up the supporters in attendance by saying the Republican nominee will win Murphy's seat. In between speeches and vote counting, organizers used the downtime to tell jokes about President Obama over the microphone.

Johnson received the second-most votes during the first ballot but lost ground to Howe as the delegates continued voting.

Howe eventually secured the votes of 135 delegates on the third ballot. a candidate needed 122 for nomination.

Johnson made his name in southeastern Minnesota as a broadcaster and auctioneer. His supporters on Saturday made a strong push for the nod with many of them joining him on stage during his speech to delegates.

While Johnson carried strong support in coming up short, there won't be a challenge at the ballot box.

The three candidates agreed to abide by the party endorsement and not entertain a primary election.

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