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Howe agrees to stay out of race

ST. PAUL -- Former state Sen. John Howe called reporters to a news conference late Thursday afternoon to announce what he already promised: that he will not challenge Dan Severson in the Republican secretary of state's race.

Last weekend at the Republican state convention, Howe pledged to abide by the delegates' endorsement, which went to Severson. But, he said, many Republicans have contacted him urging him to break his pledge.

Howe, a former Red Wing mayor, said he had to keep his word, even though he continued to say that he felt he was the best secretary of state candidate.

He said candidates for the office spend too little time talking about business-related duties of the office, which he said takes two-thirds of the time. Most discussion centers around the secretary of state's election duties.

The deadline for withdrawing from a race, once campaign paperwork had been filed, was 5 p.m. Thursday. The only other major candidate to withdraw was state Sen. Julianne Ortman, who already announced that she would drop her U.S. Senate campaign after losing the GOP endorsement to Mike McFadden.