MANKATO Allen Quist received the Republican endorsement Thursday for the 19A House seat recently vacated by Democrat Terry Morrow.
The special election is set for Feb. 12.
Quist won by an overwhelming 35 votes, or 85 percent, of the 41 convention votes in the first round. His opponents Joel Brinker received four votes and Jim Golgart got two votes. The 41 voting delegates represent less than half of the approximately 90 delegates who could have participated in the convention.
Quist, a St. Peter farmer, said he was surprised to win in the first round. He served three terms in the Legislature in the 1980s, winning each endorsement competition. Since then, he has run unsuccessfully for governor and congress. Incumbent Democrat Tim Walz defeated him in the November election to retain the 1st District congressional seat.
"If I can start my career in the Legislature and end it there; if that's possible, I would be very happy," said Quist.
However, Quist may not be done with the Republican portion of the race. Golgart refused to confirm Thursday whether he would abide by the endorsement, stating he would decide in a few days.
Quist faces a challenge in 19A, which includes all of Nicollet County, a small portion of Mankato and part of Le Sueur County. November results show nearly 70 percent of voters are in DFL-leaning portions of St. Peter and North Mankato. The single biggest voting precinct, which contains 1,570 voters, includes Gustavus Adolphus College, which traditionally votes Democratic.
Quist said that prior DFL winners in 19A were Gustavus professors who inherently mobilized the student voters, so the absence of a professor and his own graduation from Gustavus may help him.
Quist expects a tough campaign, but he feels his name recognition to be an advantage. He said he has his 2012 core campaign team still intact from his unsuccessful congressional run.
He hopes to raise the approximately $30,000 limit for the election, pledging to personally donate to his $5,000 limit. He said his list of congressional donors should help reach the goal.
The Independence Party will hold its endorsement convention on Saturday in St. Peter. Tim Gieseke is the only announced candidate.
The DFL will hold its endorsement convention on Jan. 19 in North Mankato. Announced candidates are Tim Strand, Clark Johnson, Karl Johnson and Robin Courrier.
The special election is scheduled for Feb. 12, and the primary election is scheduled for Jan. 29.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com