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Local republicans favor Thompson,Ortman

Woodbury Republicans from House District 53A recited the Pledge of Allegiance before launching into caucus-night duties. (Staff photos by Mike Longaecker)

Marty Seifert’s message may have connected with a statewide Republican audience, but party loyalists in Woodbury signaled stronger support for a different gubernatorial candidate.

Senate District 53 Republicans brought home the vote for Dave Thompson in a straw poll held Tuesday, Feb. 4, during precinct caucuses.

Thompson, a former Twin Cities radio personality from Lakeville, bested all gubernatorial candidates in local straw polling. He drew 45 votes to Seifert’s 29 in Senate District 53, which comprises all of Woodbury, Landfall and portions of Oakdale and Maplewood.

In a letter to caucusgoers, Thompson touted his radio experience and called for less government health care intrusion. He also urged party members to unite behind the endorsed gubernatorial candidate.

Seifert, meanwhile, called for the Metropolitan Council to be disbanded and urged more funding for roads over transit in his letter read to activists.

Statewide, Seifert edged Thompson in polling, 28 percent to 26 percent.

In straw polling for U.S. Senate, local Republicans fell into step with their statewide counterparts in support of state Sen. Julianne Ortman. The Chanhassen woman picked up 31 percent of the nonbinding statewide votes, with Sunfish Lake businessman Mike McFadden getting 23 percent. Locally, Ortman edged McFadden with 47 votes to his 43.

In her letter to Republicans, Ortman warned activists to be wary of candidates who might divide the party while proclaiming that she would bring “the voice of the American fighting spirit” to Washington, D.C. McFadden, meanwhile, highlighted general Republican principles and noted his campaign had already raised $2 million.

A possible GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-St. Paul, also emerged on caucus night in Woodbury.

Maplewood resident Sharna Wahlgren told House District 53A members that she is “giving very serious consideration” to entering the race for the 4th Congressional District. Joe Salmon, chairman of the SD53 Republicans, said he expects Wahlgren to formally announce this month.

While Republican straw polling drew the most attention on caucus night, Minnesota’s Democrats were also at work.

Woodbury Democrats caucused at Tartan High School in Oakdale, where Sen. Susan Kent and Rep. JoAnn Ward – both Woodbury Democrats – met with activists.

Kent said that even though Democrats weren’t tasked with picking candidates – Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken do not face challengers for the DFL endorsement – caucusgoers still could help mold the party’s platform through resolutions.

“They have their views incorporated into the process,” she said. “I love that part. They have a voice and they want to use it. It’s democracy in action.”

As is common in non-presidential election years, attendance was sparse at Tartan.

That didn’t keep attendees from talking issues.

While Woodbury Precinct 1 and Precinct 2 attendees debated a resolution supporting the conveyance of Crosswinds East Metro Arts & Science School to the Perpich Center for Arts Education, their neighbors from Precinct 3 drilled down on gun control.

Frederick Hess, the caucus convener for Woodbury Precinct 3, said caucus discussions are critical in fostering grassroots activism.

Once attendees sit down and witness the format, reservations about getting involved tend to melt away, Hess said.

“It sounds more intimidating than it is,” he said. “You’re just here with your neighbors.”

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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