By Sarah Kirchner, staff writer
Albert Lea Tribune, March 29, 2008
It was a political weekend in Albert Lea, as Brian Davis of Rochester won the Republican endorsement to run in November against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. Four hundred people showed up Saturday at the Republican 1st Congressional District Convention in Albert Lea to make the decision.
“I am honored and humbled to have such confidence placed in me by the delegates of this convention,” Davis said.
A doctor at Mayo Clinic, Davis was up against state House District 29A Rep. Randy Demmer for the nomination. Demmer had more supporters on the stage, but Davis had more enthusiasm from the crowd, which was evident in the 160-100 vote in Davis’ favor. One person voted for another candidate. From the convention, 261 votes were cast and 157 were needed for the 60 percent majority. Only one ballot was needed to come to a majority.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Norm Coleman were at the convention giving speeches to incite support for the Republican Party. Pawlenty said he thinks Republicans will do well in 2008, both nationally and in Minnesota, although he said he hasn’t had a chance to get to know many local candidates yet.
“Our country needs and our state needs and our party needs a positive message,” the governor said.
When the nomination was announced Davis thanked his family, his campaign workers and the crowd for their support. Saying Demmer is a “class act,” he thanked his competitor with a hug and a handshake.
“We’re disappointed,” Demmer said of the vote. “I’m proud to have run a great campaign.”
However, Demmer did announce he is leaning toward running for his state House seat for a fourth term. He said he will talk it over with his family to make sure running again is what they want to do.
Both Davis and Demmer, as well as many other speakers at the convention, said they are confident the Republican nominee will beat Walz, a teacher from Mankato who is in his first term in office.
“With the energy and passion in this room, I am confident we will be victorious this November,” Davis said.
But before Davis can go up against Walz, he faces a primary against longtime state Senator Dick Day. Day skipped the Republican endorsement to take the decision directly to voters. The primary election is held in September.
Walz is scheduled to start an outreach campaign in Mankato and Rochester.
Demmer said Davis has a lot of hard work ahead of him, but the position can be won through grassroots organizing and getting the message out that Walz is not the man to represent the 1st District. Demmer added he is confident Republicans will get a lot of seats back, on all levels, in the coming elections.
Davis, married with four kids ranging in age from 4 to 14, said he will work hard, raise the appropriate funds and represent the issues appropriate to the voters in the 1st District. His next campaign stop will be going door-to-door Monday in Mankato.
“This is an important election which will determine the direction our country faces,” he said.
Davis was born and raised in Waukegan, Ill., and has a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois. He has a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a medical doctorate from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He has been a doctor at Mayo Clinic and a Rochester resident since 1996.
His platform, he said, includes the belief that life begins at conception, the feeling that using embryos for stem cell research is unnecessary and a want to increase the domestic energy supply. Davis said he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and if a civil union is another name for gay marriage, then he is against it.
Davis said he wants to maintain the military status that is second to none throughout the world and is wary of foreign entanglements. The current Congress, he said, is incapable of dealing with the illegal immigrant problem and Davis wants to stop the de facto amnesty program.
“We’re going to run a vigorous campaign and I’m excited to get started,” Davis said.
The convention had votes from all 22 counties within the district. Freeborn County brought 11 of the 12 delegates allocated and seated 10 with two alternates seated. A total of 261 delegates were allocated throughout the district and 232 were present Saturday.
The last time a Republican District Convention took place in Albert Lea was 2002.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.