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Republicans pick statewide candidates

Former State Auditor Pat Anderson delivers a speech to Republican convention delegates Thursday night, asking for their support to return her to office after being gone four years. Pioneer Photo/Don Davis

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pat Anderson expected to win Republican Party backing Thursday night to return to her job as Minnesota state auditor.

As this edition went to press, voting was not completed in her race.

Anderson, of Dellwood, was ousted from the office by Democrat Rebecca Otto four years ago. She was joined in the race by state auditor's employee Jeff Wiita of Minnetonka, Mayor Randy Gilbert of Long Lake and ex-St. Paul School Board member Tom Conlon.

The secretary of state and attorney general candidates were endorsed unanimously.

The lone GOP candidate for attorney general is Chris Barden, who said the office has been in Democratic-Farmer-Laborite control for 40 years and it has become stagnant and in need of reform.

Barden, a University of Minnesota graduate, said among his priorities is building a strong business climate, challenging federal health care reform, improving public safety and election reform.

He called it unhealthy and unwise to continue with the recently passed federal health plan.

"People will rise up ... and stop the nationalization of our health care system," he said.

Democrat Lori Swanson is in the first term as attorney general.

State Rep. Dan Severson of Sauk Rapids, in his fourth term in the House, is the only GOP candidate for secretary of state. Democrat Mark Ritchie is the incumbent.

Severson is a former Navy pilot who says the state's election system needs to be reformed.

"We are at war for democracy," Severson said.

Anderson, who was elected to the state auditor's office eight years ago with the last name Awada, was a governor candidate last year, but left that crowded field to seek her old job.

Anderson, who uses a large inflated bulldog as her mascot, says she favors limited government and would work to make government less intrusive.

Plans change

Republican officials on Thursday switched attorney general and secretary of state endorsement votes to Thursday night.

The votes had been planned for Saturday, weaved among governor candidate endorsement votes. State auditor endorsement all along was planned for Thursday.

Unity breakfast

Republican officials plan to gather at 8 a.m. Saturday to celebrate party unity the morning after they pick a governor candidate.

Speakers for the event include Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen, candidates just endorsed at the convention and GOP legislative leaders.

The event is to be at the Minneapolis Hilton, with a unity rally planned for later in the morning as the state convention winds down.

Guest charge

Guests are welcome at the Republican convention.

That is, party Chairman Tony Sutton said, if they pay $10 for a guest pass.

Fairbanks grad

Governor candidate Tom Emmer has more than just a political connection with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed him Thursday.

Emmer attended the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and his wife somewhat knows Palin's family.

Byberg hires Thompson

Just as congressional candidate Lee Byberg heads for the Republican convention, he picked long-time Twin Cities radio host Dave Thompson to be his communications director.

The Lakeville, Minn., resident is an East Grand Forks High School graduate. He received economi0c and political science degrees from the University of North Dakota in 1984 and earned a University of Minnesota law degree three years later.

Byberg is challenging long-time U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, in the 7th Congressional District that includes most of western Minnesota.

Not liberal

The Voices of Conservative Women group wants Republican delegates to understand that liberal women do not speak for them.

"Liberal, progressive women have had a monopoly on speaking out about issues that they define as 'women's issues' and implying they speak for the women of Minnesota," said the organization's Jennifer DeJournett. "Women want to know who will stand up for their families' everyday issues and their pocketbooks. VOICESPAC intends to help elect candidates that will stand up for Minnesota families by advocating for fiscally responsible policies."

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.