Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer has won the Republican endorsement over current Rep. Mark Olson, IR-Big Lake, to run in state House District 16B.
Olson, of Big Lake, was convicted last summer of a domestic assault charge against his wife, and has been expelled from the House Republican caucus by his fellow Republicans. Kiffmeyer secured the endorsement on the second ballot during Saturday's district convention at Big Lake High School.
Kiffmeyer fell just one vote short of winning the endorsement on the first ballot. Two other candidates dropped out, after which she easily beat Olson on the second ballot.
Kiffmeyer was was elected secretary of state in 1998, and was defeated by DFLer Mark Ritchie in 2006 in her bid for a third term. She said her past experience as a statewide elected official would be valuable in the Legislature.
"To be able to contribute from that perspective, I'm looking forward to doing that," Kiffmeyer, of Big Lake, said in a phone interview.
Olson, first elected to the House in 1992, had previously mentioned that he might run as an independent if he were denied the endorsement. He did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
Kiffmeyer said Olson's legal troubles were "certainly a factor, probably the predominating factor" in her decision to run. She said before she entered the race that she was often approached in public by people wanting her to get into the race.
Olson's wife, Heidi, whom he was convicted of assaulting, delivering a nominating speech on his behalf at the convention on Saturday, according to Paul Vollkommer, the district Republican chairman.
The endorsed DFL candidate is Steve Andrews, a vice president of technology at a securities brokerage firm. He lives in Big Lake Township.