They may be at opposite ends of the state, but the Minnesota Republican and DFL parties will host their annual state conventions on the same weekend this spring.
Both parties will convene during the last weekend in May. The DFL announced last June that it would hold its get-together May 30-June 1 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, where Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken are expected to be endorsed for re-election.
Last Tuesday, the GOP said that its convention would take place May 30-31 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, where delegates will endorse candidates to take on Franken and Dayton.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey said there wasn’t much room for debate — or on the calendar — to pick a date other than the one that was chosen. The 2014 legislative session, which kicks off Feb. 25, could go as late as May 19, the deadline for adjournment. That leaves only two weekends between session’s end and the June 3 candidate filing deadline, and one of those is the May 24-26 Memorial Day weekend.
Downey said the party considered holding its convention the weekend of May 17-18, but noted that it wouldn’t be prudent for lawmakers to be absent as the curtain dropped on the legislative session.
“If there ever were a weekend where lots of votes were cast throughout the day and night, it would be that weekend,” said Downey, a former legislator.
“We have a lot of candidates for U.S. Senate and governor that are in the Legislature,” he added. “The thought of them being held up for votes which they would feel obligated to cast and messing up the agenda for our endorsements seemed like more of a handful than it was worth.”
Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin declined to discuss the dual scheduling.
Downey said the date was a chain-reaction result involving other calendar changes. The primaries, which used to be held in September, now take place in August. As a result, the filing deadline for candidates is earlier than it used to be, leaving the GOP no June dates to consider for its convention.
Still, Downey said, the fact that the parties’ conventions will overlap shouldn’t create a problem. “I can’t think of any other group of people besides the press who would see that as a big conflict,” he said. “I don’t know too many Republicans that go to the Democratic convention or vice versa.”
Here are a few other key dates running up to the 2014 general election in November, from Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie:
• May 20-June 3: Candidate filing period. Candidates running for partisan office need to file during this window of time.
• June 27: Absentee ballots for the Aug. 12 primary will become available on this date.
• July 22: Deadline to preregister to vote in the August primary. While registration will be available at polling places on primary day, voters are encouraged to preregister to avoid long waits at the polls.
• Aug. 12: Primary day.
• Sept. 19: Absentee ballots will become available for the Nov. 4 general election.
• Oct. 14: Deadline to preregister to vote in the general election. Again, while eligible voters will be able to register at their polling places on Election Day, they are encouraged to preregister to avoid long lines.
• Nov. 4: Election Day.
The week ahead
The Lessard-Sams Heritage Council is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the State Office Building in St. Paul.