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Palin endorses Emmer before Minnesota GOP convention vote

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sarah Palin added excitement to the Minnesota Republican convention Thursday night by endorsing Tom Emmer for governor. "A patriotic, fiscally conservative 'hockey dad' who got his start in politics by serving on his local city cou...

Sarah Palin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sarah Palin added excitement to the Minnesota Republican convention Thursday night by endorsing Tom Emmer for governor.

"A patriotic, fiscally conservative 'hockey dad' who got his start in politics by serving on his local city councils is running for governor of the great state of Minnesota," Palin wrote on her Facebook page Thursday afternoon. "His name is Tom Emmer, and I'm proud to support him."

Emmer was thrilled.

"The gold standard of grass-roots politics" is how Emmer described Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate.

In general, GOP delegates said the conservative star's endorsement probably would not sway their decision today as they decide between Emmer and fellow state Rep. Marty Seifert.

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About 2,010 delegates filed into the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday night to endorse other state candidates, but they left no doubt today's gubernatorial contest is the main event.

Seifert and Emmer pledge to follow today's convention decision, unlike Democratic candidates Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza, who are challenging their DFL endorsee Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

GOP Party Chairman Tony Sutton said big-name endorsements sometimes help, but sometimes they backfire. He did not know how the Facebook posting would affect the convention, with half of the delegates new to the process.

Seifert said the Palin fuss means little. The Marshall lawmaker called himself "an underdog farm boy," like he has been in past elections.

Seifert's campaign was calling delegates from around Minnesota to convince them to make the trip to Minneapolis and offer him their support. Calling the team of Emmer and Annette Meeks an all-Twin Cities ticket, Seifert said it is vital to get rural Republicans to Minneapolis.

Emmer would not say whether Palin's support would help him, but called it "a very significant endorsement."

Emmer, 49, has served in the Minnesota House since 2005. He is a lawyer and is known for frequently taking on conservative causes on the House floor. He lives in Delano, in the extreme western Twin Cities area, and is a Tea Party favorite.

Seifert, 38, comes from southwest Minnesota's Marshall, where he was a teacher and a university admissions counselor. He comes from more of the Republican mainstream and was House Republican leader until he left the job last year to run for governor.

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Republicans have endorsed candidates for attorney general and secretary of state, but the race for state auditor was undecided late Thursday.

The party's convention started Thursday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Rep. Dan Severson of Sauk Rapids was endorsed for secretary of state. He ran unopposed and will challenge Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie this November.

Attorney Chris Barden was endorsed for attorney general. He was the only Republican seeking to challenge Democratic incumbent Lori Swanson.

Four Republicans are looking to unseat Democratic State Auditor Rebecca Otto: former state auditor Pat Anderson, former St. Paul School Board member Tom Conlon, corporate auditor Randy Gilbert and longtime state auditor's office employee Jeff Wiita.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the News Tribune. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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