GOP backs Lehrke, Quinlan, McNamara in Senate District 54
Republicans picked first-time candidate Janis Quinlan to challenge Sen. Katie Sieben and threw their support behind Cottage Grove City Council member Derrick Lehrke for an open Minnesota House seat.
Quinlan, a real estate agent and St. Paul Park resident, won the Senate District 54 endorsement on the fourth round of balloting at the district convention Saturday in Hastings.
Quinlan beat fellow first-time candidate Chad Rediske, of Cottage Grove, who conceded to Quinlan after trailing in each of the four rounds.
Two years ago, Quinlan worked on Republican Karin Housley's failed run against Sieben and said she believes the seat can flip to Republican control this November. Housley endorsed Quinlan at the convention.
"I think the atmosphere right now is ripe for change for our district," Quinlan said in an interview.
Also nabbing endorsements were Lehrke, for House District 54A, and Rep. Denny McNamara, of Hastings, who will seek a sixth House term this fall in District 54B.
Lehrke topped challenger Dean Barton 37-18 after the first ballot.
Lehrke is running to replace retiring Rep. John Kriesel, who showed up at the convention to thank delegates for their support during his two-year term and urge them to back Lehrke.
Lehrke said he'll stick to a jobs-oriented campaign message this summer and fall.
"My focus is going to be straight on the economy," he said.
Lehrke will be running against Democrat Dan Schoen, a St. Paul Park resident and Cottage Grove police officer endorsed Saturday at the local DFL Party convention in South St. Paul. Joanna Bayers, of Hastings, earned the DFL endorsement Saturday to run against McNamara.