State Sen. John Marty, a DFL gubernatorial candidate, didn't have to go far to find his running mate.

He picked fellow DFL state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, who sits just three seats away on the Senate floor and who lives just 9 miles away from Marty's Roseville home.

But Marty, the first DFL candidate to name a running mate, said Torres Ray, of Minneapolis, brings other diversity to his ticket.

As the first a Latina state Senator lawmaker, she brings ethic diversity and as a woman, she brings gender diversity, he said.

"We certainly wanted a lot of balance...I think ethnic diversity is part of that, gender, a lot of things," Marty said.

When Marty ran for governor 16  years ago, he picked Dassel lobbyist Nancy Larson as his lieutenant governor and emphasized her rural credentials. That year, he won the DFL endorsement only to spectacularly lose to Republican Gov. Arne Carlson in the November election.

On Wednesday, at the press conference where Marty and Torres Ray announced their ticket, Torres Ray avoided answering a question key to many rural voters -- the issue of ethanol.

"For now I would like not to get into answering questions related to that or any other issue," she said.

Back in the waning days of the 2006 gubernatorial election, Democrat Mike Hatch's running mate flubbed a question about "E85," a gasoline ethanol blend. Some analysts believe the mistake, and its fallout, helped Republican Tim Pawlenty win the race by a narrow margin.

"I have some hesitation to talk about how we have really put some questions before people who are running for office and how we treat them after we make mistakes," she said. "I promise you I am going to do my best to learn about the issues that affect every member of the community."

When Republican candidate Marty Seifert became the first contender to announce a running mate, his pick -- Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah -- she suggested at a press conference that E85 was mandated, which it is not.

Marty is one of about half a dozen DFL candidates vying for the party's mid-April endorsement and has pledged to drop out if he does not receive it. He claims he is third in delegate count going into that convention, behind House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

At least a third of the 1,300 delegates going to that convention are officially uncommitted.

"I don't think any of us know what the dynamic of the convention is going to be yet," Marty said.