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GOP delegates meet Saturday in Willmar for endorsement in Dist. 17B race

WILLMAR –– Republican delegates from District 17B will meet Saturday in Willmar with the goal of endorsing a candidate to run this fall against DFL Rep. Mary Sawatzky of Willmar.

The district’s convention begins at 9 a.m. at the MinnWest Technology Campus.

Two GOP candidates, Linda Kacher and Dave Baker, are vying for the party endorsement.

Both individuals are from Willmar and neither has run for political office before.

Kacher, however, has been involved in the Kandiyohi County GOP party as an office-holder and Baker, a local business owner, has served on a statewide board with the Chamber of Commerce.

Rollie Nissen, co-chairman of the Kandiyohi County Republican Party, said Baker and Kacher will participate in a candidate forum on Saturday that will help delegates get to know the candidates and their views on issues.

Besides speeches by the two candidates, the forum will include a question-and-answer session between delegates and the candidates.

In order to gain endorsement, a candidate must receive the votes of at least 60 percent of the delegates present at the convention.

If a decision is not reached after five ballots, Nissen said the delegates will have the option of voting for “no endorsement.” That decision also needs the votes of at least 60 percent of the delegates.

“We can go longer if the body doesn’t want to give up,” said Nissen.

If neither candidate receives the required 60 percent support, then they will face off in a primary election this summer.

A primary election could happen anyway.

Kacher said she will abide by the endorsement process and will not run in the primary if Baker is endorsed.

Baker, however, said he is still undecided about whether he would pursue a primary race if he is not endorsed on Saturday.

Besides voting to endorse a House candidate, the GOP delegates will also debate and vote on resolutions that shape the party platform.

Nissen said statewide candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate are also expected to speak to delegates in Willmar throughout the morning.

District 17B includes all of Kandiyohi County except for four southern townships: Edwards, Holland, Roseland and Lake Lillian townships.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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