Dec 13, 2021 - Politics

Paul Gazelka wins Minnesota GOP gubernatorial straw poll

paul gazelka laughs
Photo: Jim Mone/AP File

State Sen. Paul Gazelka won the Minnesota Republican Party's gubernatorial race straw poll over the weekend.

Why it matters: The straw poll of GOP delegates gives some indication of how party activists who will influence the endorsements are leaning in the competitive gubernatorial race right now.

Yes, but: A bigger universe of Republican delegates votes for the actual endorsement next year. And being straw poll frontrunner isn't a lock for the nomination — someone else won the primary in at least the last three elections. In 2018, the victor ended his campaign a month later.

State of play: Gazelka, a former Senate majority leader, won with support of 37% of delegates at the GOP's State Central meeting, according to results screenshots posted by an attendee.

The big picture: A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll released last week showed six major GOP challengers trailing DFL Gov. Tim Walz by similar double-digit margins.

  • The governor was below 50% in the matchups, with more than 10% of voters undecided in all cases.

The intrigue: The field may not be set quite yet. Kendall Qualls, who ran unsuccessful for a suburban congressional seat in 2020, is expected to announce his candidacy in January.

The bottom line: With five months to go until the GOP's endorsing convention, it's anyone's race.

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