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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State party conventions are underway

ROCHESTER, Minn. --  Republicans have opened their 2014 state convention at the Mayo Civic Center.  The big battle was over the state GOP endorsement for U.S. Senate which is still ongoing as of Saturday morning.

State Senator Julianne Ortman from Chanhassen was generally acknowledged as the front runner,  however she was eliminated in the balloting which took all night and well into Saturday morning.  Businessman Mike McFadden and Saint Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg are the two candidates left remaing. A candidate needs 60 percent of the delegates to receive the official party endorsement.


The Tea Party Express political action committee is throwing its support behind Julianne Ortman for U.S. Senate.  The Tea Party Express issued a statement, saying, "the very best person to challenge Al Franken is a truly strong tea-party conservative like state Senator Julianne Ortman."  


Governor Mark Dayton and his running mate, Tina Smith, have filed the necessary paperwork to run for governor and lieutenant governor.  Dayton and Smith are scheduled to arrive in Duluth today for the DFL State Convention.  They are set to be endorsed on this afternoon.  


Veterans Affair Secretary Eric Shinseki has stepped down after repeated calls from Minnesota's congressional delegation and others encouraging him to resign.  U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-PLymouth) was the latest Minnesota lawmaker to join the rising chorus of voices calling for Shinseki to step down.  The former prosecutor says she was appaled by the Inspector General's report outlining a widespread falsification of records in Phoenix - and while she doesn't believe there is evidence of this happening in a systemic way in Minnesota, it's "extremely concerning" that it may be happening in other parts of the country in addition to Arizona.  Klobuchar calls General Shinseki a man of great courage and someone who has done many good things for our nation's veterans, but believes the VA needs new leadership in order to gain back the trust of veterans and solve these serious problems.  


A man and woman are dead after their motorcycle was broadsided by a van in Cambridge last night.  The victims have been identified as the motorcycle's driver, 44-year-old Jayson Ingvall of Saint Francis and his passenger, 43-year-old Melonie Ingvall.  The State Patrol says it appears the van made a U-turn on Highway 95 directly in front of the motorcycle resulting in the collision.  The van's driver, a 41-year-old Zimmerman resident, was not injured. 


Officials have called heroin abuse a growing statewide problem, with overdoses in the Twin Cities at a record high, and the state's other big cities are not immune.  Rochester police have arrested a suspected heroin dealer they believe sold drugs that killed a man yesterday (Thu) morning.  46-year-old Demetrious Deal is charged with third-degree murder, possession of crack cocaine in a park zone, and sale of heroin, after 39-year-old Nicholas Miner was found dead in the early morning hours on Thursday.  Investigators say Deal denied selling the drugs but admitted that he did know Miner. 


The governor of neighboring Iowa signs a very restrictive medical marijuana bill into law today in Des Moines(Fri 2:30pm).  The Medical Cannabidiol Act only allows the use of non-intoxicating CBD oil to treat severe epilepsy and seizure disorders.  Similar to the medical marijuana push at the Minnesota Capitol this year, the mothers of children with epilepsy persistently lobbied Iowa lawmakers.  Patients will need a doctor's recommendation and state I-D card to get cannabis oil in a state where medical marijuana is legal.  


Officials have discovered zebra mussels in northeastern Minnesota's Crooked Lake.  The pest was discovered earlier this week by biologists from the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa as they were conducting fisheries assessments.  DNR Invasive Species Specialist Rich Rezanka says the mussels can be quite harmful. To prevent the spread of invasive species, Rezanka urges all boaters to clean their equipment, drain the water out of it and dry it for as long as possible before moving to other lakes.