After several hours and five rounds of voting Saturday, Scott County GOP delegates left the Minnesota House District 55A endorsement convention without endorsing anyone.
Former Rep. Bob Loonan and former House candidate Erik Mortensen, both Republicans, will face each other in a primary this August to determine which of them will compete for Democrat Rep. Brad Tabke’s seat in November.
In 2018, Scott County GOP endorsed Mortensen on a single ballot with more than 70% of delegates supporting him. In the 2018 primary, Mortensen went on to defeat Loonan by a vote of 1,727 to 1,263 (57 percent to 42 percent).
A candidate needs to receive 60% of the delegate vote to be endorsed. If nobody receives 60% on the first round of ballots, delegates move into additional rounds of voting.
Loonan and Mortensen were able to address the crowd of delegates after the third round of voting, which Loonan believes is what helped him boost momentum in round four.
In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Loonan wrote, “After the delegates heard from each of us the momentum shifted in my favor. I gained votes on the fourth ballot. And on the fifth vote we were tied with 53 votes a piece.”
According to Scott County GOP Chair Joe Ditto, a simple majority of delegates voted after the fifth round of ballots to forego an endorsement. Convention rules allow delegates to either move into a sixth round or take a “no endorsement” vote after five rounds. Delegate Brad Edstrom, of Shakopee, made the motion in favor of no endorsement. It was seconded and passed.
Loonan told The Shakopean he views it as a win for his campaign.
“Once the momentum swung after we each gave our second speech, the other side moved to call it a day,” Loonan said. “There is an old saying: In every boxing match, at some point the dancing stops and the fighting begins. Erik Mortensen bailed out right at the start of the fight.”
Mortensen remains confident in his campaign’s momentum and his ability to beat Tabke in November. (In 2018, Tabke won 52% of the vote with 8,990 votes and Mortensen received 48% with 8,386 votes.)
In a statement to The Shakopean, Mortensen said, “I look forward to ending the political careers of the Republican that votes like a Democrat, Bob Loonan, and the Democrat that votes like a Socialist, Brad Tabke.”
Mortensen said he will fight against taxpayer-funded abortion and work to implement term limits to get rid of career politicians.
According to Ditto, the vote totals for each round of ballots were:
Mortensen – 55
Loonan – 46
Undecided – 8
Mortensen – 59
Loonan – 48
Undecided – 2
Mortensen – 61
Loonan – 47
Undecided – 2
Mortensen – 56
Loonan – 51
Mortensen – 53
Loonan – 53