Dr. Scott Jensen wins GOP endorsement for governor 

The state convention endorsed Jim Schultz for attorney general, Kim Crockett for secretary of state, and Ryan Wilson for state auditor.

Dr. Scott Jensen speaks to delegates Saturday at the Minnesota GOP's convention in Rochester. (Rebecca Brannon/Twitter)

Dr. Scott Jensen emerged victorious Saturday over a crowded field of candidates seeking the Minnesota GOP’s endorsement for governor.

The endorsement battle at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center concluded after seven hours and nine ballots, at times turning bitter when Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy called Kendall Qualls a “sellout” before dropping out of the race and endorsing Jensen.

Murphy claimed Qualls offered him the lieutenant governor role; Qualls shot back, accusing Murphy of attacking his character and denying that an offer was made.

“My integrity was challenged and soiled by what happened on this stage here before,” Qualls said. “I want to make sure that you understand: no offer was ever made to Mike Murphy.”

Murphy then began showing delegates an alleged text exchange between him and Qualls’ campaign manager in which the possibility of Murphy joining the ticket as lieutenant governor was discussed.

Qualls later said options were discussed, but a deal was never reached.

“He came into our war room to talk about opportunities and we talked about opportunities to be on the ticket or in the administration. Because he didn’t get his way, he stormed out and went straight to Scott Jensen,” Qualls added.

Murphy continued to insist that he was offered the role of lieutenant governor, but Qualls “backed off” when Murphy discussed his “vision” for the office.

This exchange was important because Qualls, Jensen and Murphy were the final three candidates on the ballot, and both Qualls and Jensen were competing for the support of Murphy’s delegates. Murphy’s exit from the race tipped the scales in favor of Jensen, who passed the 60% threshold on the ninth ballot.

Murphy’s performance in the contest was buoyed by an endorsement from Dr. Neil Shah, who dropped out after the second ballot.

Shah’s exit was followed by Sen. Paul Gazelka, who left the race after the third ballot and threw his weight behind Qualls.

“The first thing I’m going to do in the governor’s office is we’re going to rewrite the emergency powers. We’re going to pass constitutional carry, stand your ground, castle doctrine. We are going to get school choice. We are going to have voter ID, and we are going to commute Kim Potter’s sentence in the first month,” Jensen said.

“I’m asking you to embrace a winning movement. Say no to the sidelines. Let’s take the fight to Tim Walz,” he continued. “Let’s unite. Let’s win. Let’s heal and when we do we’re going to send a message to Tim Walz and here it is, folks: Tim Walz, game over. You’re done.”

On Friday, the state convention endorsed Jim Schultz for attorney general, Kim Crockett for secretary of state, and Ryan Wilson for state auditor.