By Don Davis
Twin Cities businessman Mike McFadden began to show momentum early this afternoon in Republicans’ effort to pick a candidate to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
In the Republican state convention’s ninth ballot, McFadden had 1,039 votes and the only other remaining endorsement contender, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, sat at 879. That gave McFadden 53 percent, with 60 percent needed to be endorsed.
The race had turned into a virtual tie this morning after state convention delegates resumed balloting they suspended at 2 a.m. Dahlberg had led in previous ballots.
Balloting began Friday afternoon at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center.
State Sen. Julianne Ortman was removed from the ballot Friday when she failed to reach a 20 percent threshold. She did not publically endorse either remaining candidate.
State Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka also was eliminated from the endorsement process, although before the convention he and McFadden said they plan to go on to the Aug. 12 primary election regardless of the convention endorsement outcome.
McFadden continued his campaign today barely able to speak. His staff was working to keep him from talking any more than needed.
In the meantime, Franken was in Duluth receiving the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement unopposed.
After Republicans finish work on the Senate race, they are to begin voting on governor candidates.