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John Moberg, right, collects straw poll votes for the GOP U.S. Senate candidates in Minnesota during Tuesday night's Becker County Republican caucus at M State in Detroit Lakes. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Jeff Johnson wins Becker County straw poll for governor, McFadden wins for Senate race

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Detroit Lakes native Jeff Johnson scored a close victory over Marty Seifert in a straw poll for governor — and Mike McFadden was the clear favorite in the U.S. Senate race — at the Becker County Republican Party caucuses Tuesday evening.

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They were held at M State in Detroit Lakes and at the Lions Hall in Wolf Lake.

Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, received 33 votes to 29 votes for Seifert, a former state representative from Marshall.

Coming in third with 13 votes was Orono businessman Scott Honour. State Sen. Dave Thompson of Lakeville received 6 votes. Hibbing special education teacher Rob Farnsworth got 3 votes, and former state House Speaker Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove got 2 votes. Two caucus-goers were undecided.

They are vying for the Republican endorsement to run against DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

In the race to unseat Democrat Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, businessman McFadden of Sunfish Lake received 36 votes. Coming in second was state Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen with 19 votes.

St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg of Duluth was third with 14 votes. State Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka was next with 7 votes.

Bison farmer Monti Moreno of Marine on St. Croix and retired Army chaplain Harold Shudlick were both shut out, with zero votes. Three “undecided” votes were cast.

At the conventions, letters from candidates were read aloud, delegates to the county convention were elected, and resolutions were discussed and approved by precincts to be sent on to the county convention, which is set for 9 a.m. March 15 at the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes.

Republicans have especially set their sights on winning the 7th Congressional District seat long held by Democrat Collin Peterson.

They hope he will either retire, having successfully seen another farm bill through the process, or lose to Torrey Westrom, a state representative from Elbow Lake — who raised $80,000 in December and is considered by some as the best GOP candidate to run against Peterson in 20 years.

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