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Seifert, Ortman take Beltrami GOP straw poll

Grant Valley Township residents (from left) Keith Pommerang, Judith and Bill Larson and Ken Cobb discuss which GOP candidates they will endorse in the 2014 election as part of Tuesday's Republican caucus at Bemidji High School. Caucuses for all parties were held throughout Minnesota on Tuesday. (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert and U.S. Senate hopeful Julianne Ortman are the Beltrami County GOP’s preference poll picks in the race to see which Republicans take on Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken in November.

Seifert garnered 39.3 percent of all ballots cast and Ortman received 57 percent in a preference vote at the Beltrami County GOP precinct caucuses conducted Tuesday, according to numbers posted to social media by the county GOP. 

Dave Thompson was the runner-up in the governor’s race vote with 23.4 percent and Jim Abeler took second in the Senate race with 14 percent. Seventy-nine people caucused at the main location at Bemidji High School with 107 total attendees in the county.

Seifert and Ortman took early leads shortly after results started coming in, which Beltrami GOP chair Ken Cobb said didn’t come as a shock.  

“What I’m seeing so far is not surprising me,” he said.

The county DFL and Independence parties also caucused Tuesday night but did not conduct straw polls.

Dozens of Republicans from across the county, roughly four to seven for each precinct, came to the high school to vote in the poll, select delegates to the county convention and put forward resolutions to change or alter the party’s platform. The caucus-goers appeared to be mostly seniors but a few young adults were scattered among them.

Former Minnesota Rep. Dave Hancock said he is running to retake the seat he lost to DFLer Roger Erickson in 2012. He’ll be seeking the GOP nod at a March endorsement meeting.

Hancock he said he took issue with tax increases passed on Erickson’s watch. He also felt a disproportionate amount of additions to Local Government Aid (LGA) went to metro-area cities instead of communities in greater Minnesota.

“Seems to me that a lot of the new LGA money is (going) to Twin Cities towns that didn’t receive it before,” he said.

In the Beltrami DFL caucus, chair Steve Nelson said several resolutions were proposed by caucus-goers and several precincts supported a minimum wage increase.

More runners-up in the GOP caucus' governor straw poll were Jeff Johnson with 9.3 percent, Kurt Zellers with 8.4 percent, Scott Honour with 4.7 percent, Rob Farnsworth with 3.7 percent and 11.7 percent undecided. Runners-up in the senator straw poll were Mike McFadden with 12.1 percent, Chris Dahlberg with 4.7 percent, Harold Shudlick with 0 percent, Monti Moreno, 0 percent and 12.1 percent undecided. 

Matt Cory

Matt Cory is the Editor of the Pioneer. Cory grew up in East Grand Forks and is a graduate of the University of North Dakota. He worked as a reporter, copy editor and editor at the Grand Forks Herald from 1993 to 2013, when he joined the Pioneer as Editor.

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