DFL Party endorses Dayton, Franken for 2nd terms
- Article by: STEVE KARNOWSKI
- Associated Press
- May 31, 2014 - 7:50 PM
DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsed Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken for second terms Saturday at a convention that highlighted the party's successes and the challenges it faces in retaining power.
Around 1,300 delegates gathered at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center to make their support for Dayton and Franken official and to set the stage for the fall campaign.
Franken recalled promising them six years ago that he would recapture a Senate seat that had been held by Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone. The former "Saturday Night Live" comedian promised to win it again, but by a bigger margin than the 312-vote majority he got in 2008.
"I am passionate about this job because I have seen how it matters to Minnesotans and I am just getting started," Franken said.
Dayton contrasted the political stalemates of his first two years — when Republicans controlled the Legislature — with the laws passed under the last two years under DFL majorities. He rattled off bills that they enacted to increase funding for education, raise the state's minimum wage, protect schoolchildren from bullying, raise income taxes on the wealthiest Minnesota residents, and balance the budget without relying on accounting gimmicks.
"There can be no regression. ... There's only moving ahead," Dayton said.
It was a different story for Dayton four years ago, when the former U.S. senator skipped the endorsement process and went straight to the DFL primary, a decision that got him barred from the floor at the 2010 state convention.
Minnesota Republicans were debating a crowded field of gubernatorial candidates seeking their endorsement at their state convention in Rochester on Saturday evening.
Franken, Dayton and other speakers stressed the importance of bringing out Democratic voters for the off-year general election in November, when Republicans are expected to make gains across the country. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, of Cook, warned that the party will be in "big trouble" if turnout falls below 50 percent.
"We cannot allow ourselves to take our foot off the pedal," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said.
In the only competitive race of the convention, delegates endorsed state Rep. Steve Simon over state Rep. Debra Hilstrom for secretary of state. Simon was declared the winner by acclamation after Hilstrom conceded before the first-ballot vote total was announced. Both said they would not challenge the endorsed candidate in the primary.
Simon, of St. Louis Park, touted his work to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have required Minnesota voters to present identification at the polls. Hilstrom, of Brooklyn Center, called for restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies after they've served their sentences.
Former state Rep. Dan Severson, of Sauk Rapids, has the GOP endorsement. The winner in November will replace Democrat Mark Ritchie, who is retiring.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Attorney General Lori Swanson, both seeking third terms, won easy voice votes for endorsement. The GOP-endorsed auditor candidate is former Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert. State Sen. Scott Newman, of Hutchinson, is the Republican attorney general candidate, while Brandan Borgos is running on the Independence Party ticket.
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