ROCHESTER, Minn. — In an ever-tightening contest, Republicans struggled Saturday to endorse a candidate in the race to unseat Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.
After an overnight recess and eight ballots overall at the GOP state convention in Rochester, a mere three votes separated St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and investment banker Mike McFadden, who were dueling for the 60 percent needed for endorsement.
Dahlberg, who emerged as a dark-horse pick the day before, was looking to deny McFadden a smooth path to the November ballot. McFadden plans to run in an August primary no matter what. He scooped up the backing of retiring U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann early in the day.
"While I applaud each candidate who has worked so hard to secure our party's nomination, it is my belief that Mike McFadden is the candidate that can best bring the fight to Senator Franken," Bachmann said in a written statement. She remains popular with the conservatives who make up a large share of the delegate pool.
McFadden took to the stage, his voice hoarse, to proclaim himself the candidate with enough money and contrast to stack up against the incumbent.
"We have forgotten to believe how to win in this state," he told fellow Republicans. "And I'm tired of it. And you're tired of it. And we're tired of it. Together, we, us, will beat Al Franken. We will crush him."
In his own morning remarks, Dahlberg warned delegates not to be swayed by dollar signs.
"The political graveyards have been filled with campaigns where they thought it was all about the money," he said.
There was a chance that the party would remain deadlocked, leaving the GOP without a preferred candidate until an August primary. The same delegates also planned to pick a favorite for Minnesota governor on Saturday, with four candidates in the endorsement hunt.