When the local DFL party was preparing for Saturday's nomination convention, they should have selected a bigger room.
One organizer said, "Wow, we thought there was more snow birds in our group than there are."
Special elections don't usually get a lot of attention.
Candidate Karl Johnson said, "I was very concerned we wouldn't have more than 30–40 people here."
But with long–time DFL legislator Terry Morrow leaving, and Republican candidate Allen Quist, fresh off his defeat in November's 1st–District congressional race, the DFL needs a solid candidate to keep the seat.
Representative Kathy Brynaert said, "I think you see democracy at work here."
Minnesota State professor Clark Johnson won the popularity contest with signs - and after 3 hours and 4 rounds of voting, he won over the delegates too, receiving 32 votes for 61% of the ballots cast.
Johnson defeated North Mankato farmer Karl Johnson, educator and union activist Robin Courrier, and St. Peter Mayor Tim Strand.
Johnson said, "We're going to make this campaign happen, you saw the energy in this room today, people backing me and we are going to make this happen fast by marshaling the supporters we got."
And fast he will have to be the special election will be held on February 12th, less than a month away. Johnson said he would start fundraising and campaigning immediately.
Johnson said, "I have a lot of friends that are really committed to this and we are going to get out there and work hard."
Johnson said if he makes it to the capitol, his number one goal is to help create a stable, long–term, future–oriented budget
Johnson said, "These budget gimmicks of the past, borrowing from the schools, raising property taxes, those days are gone, we need to make and investment in MN that is long term so that all people have opportunity, and that is why I am running."
Before the votes, all delegates said they would abide by the endorsing convention and drop out of the race if they didn't win...which would usually mean there is no need for a primary election.
But because the withdrawal deadline was January 16th, a primary election will still be held under rule.