At the Coalition's national convention in New York City in January 1878, Teller was opposed to the convention selecting a nominee for Governor-General, exclaiming, "It would scarcely be democratic to select a 'leader.' The people do not need one, since they can trust themselves to run their own affairs." Teller's remark was quoted in the January 5, 1878 issue of the New York Herald, a Conservative Party organ. The convention eventually adopted Edward Dietrich's proposal that each confederation nominate its strongest candidate, and that a second convention be held to choose one for Governor-General, if necessary.
Teller went on to win a seat on the Grand Council in the 1878 elections, the only one of Northern Vandalia's eleven Coalitionist candidates to do so. In the balloting for Governor-General afterwards, Teller was initially chosen by 19 of the Coalition's 39 members, Matthew Ruffin receiving the other 20. At one point in the balloting, all of Teller's supporters, including Teller himself, had switched to Ruffin, but by the time of John McDowell's victory in the seventh ballot, Teller received 12 votes.