3A Republicans to gather in Ely

Endorsing convention slated for Friday at Ely Senior Center

by Tom Coombe
Republicans in House District 3A will gather again - this time in Ely - to endorse a new candidate in their bid to seek DFL incumbent Rob Ecklund.
Bob Wolfe, who won the endorsement last month at Cook, has since pulled out of the race and district Republicans will gather at 7 p.m. Friday, at Ely’s Senior Center, for a second endorsing conventions.
Ely Mayor Roger Skraba ran second to Wolfe at the earlier convention and actually tied the Loman resident in total votes, with Wolfe gaining the nod on a weighted point system.
But Friday’s event in Ely may not be a formality for Skraba.
Another candidate, Blain Johnson of Bigfork, is seeking the endorsement. He did not participate in the earlier convention at Cook.
Candidates must notify party officials they are seeking the endorsement by Wednesday, and no nominations will be taken from the floor.
Republican 3A delegates and alternates from St. Louis, Koochiching, Itasca, Lake and Cook counties are set to gather for the event.
The convention marks the next step in an unusually busy House race.
Skraba had vowed to continue the race on to an August primary, and Wolfe said that gave him second thoughts about continuing in the race. He later withdrew and endorsed Skraba.
Wolfe said that the Elyite may be better positioned to gain votes in St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties, all areas carried by Ecklund in his narrow 2020 win over Republican challenger Thomas Manninen.
Earlier, Republicans also endorsed Babbitt’s Andrea Zupancich for the State Senate seat being vacated by longtime legislator Tom Bakk.
Zupancich faces a primary battle of her own against Kelsey Johnson, a former mining industry lobbyist who lives near Duluth. The winner is on track for a contest with Hermantown council member Grant Hauschild, the leading Democrat in the contest.