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Zellers decides on running mate, not convention

MOORHEAD — Minnesota Republican governor candidate Kurt Zellers Thursday announced his running mate, Perham’s Dean Simpson, but he said he still does not know if he will seek the state convention endorsement or just go directly to the summer primary election.

Grocery store owner and former state representative Simpson, 63, joins Zellers’ ticket as the campaign moves toward the May 31 state party convention.

“Dean absolutely exemplifies ... the quintessential main street Minnesota business owner,” Zellers, 44, said. “He’s just Minnesota to his core.”

Simpson’s grocery store in Perham anchors a 40-acre business park. He also owns a New York Mills store.

His business background will help him attract jobs to the state, Zellers said.

Former state House Speaker Zellers called Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration “Minneapolis-centric” and inefficient. Simpson said his 25-year service as mayor of New York Mills taught him what rural Minnesotans need.

“We need housing. We need employees. We need a transportation system that works,” Simpson said.

After announcing in Moorhead that he picked Simpson, Zellers stood in front of the state Capitol, where he and Simpson served in the House together, and said he has not decided whether he will seek his party’s endorsement May 31 at the convention in Rochester.

Zellers, a Devils Lake, N.D., native, already said he will run in the Aug. 12 primary, but still is considering whether to seek the GOP endorsement, too. He said he will be in Rochester, but said he will not decide until the middle of next week about asking for convention delegates’ votes.

“My sense is it’s a wide open convention,” Zellers said.