ROCHESTER – Minnesota DFLers wrapped up their hard-fought endorsing convention Sunday by unexpectedly backing lieutenant governor candidate Erin Maye Quade, a rookie legislator whose fight against sexual harassment and sit-in for gun control vaulted her into the spotlight.
Minnesota DFLers backed Maye Quade a day after state Rep. Erin Murphy won the gubernatorial endorsement over U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in seven rounds of voting.
On Sunday, Maye Quade took an immediate jab at GOP gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“Minnesotans don’t want or need a Wall Street lobbyist. They need the heart and tenacity and vision of a nurse and the passion and experienced leadership of an organizer,” said Maye Quade, 32, a first-term state representative from Apple Valley and community organizer.
This weekend’s Republican and DFL endorsement conventions have set the stage for showdowns this fall. In order for Murphy and Maye Quade to face off with GOP contenders in the November general election, they would first have to beat at least one fellow DFL ticket in the August primary. Walz, of Mankato, and his running mate state Rep. Peggy Flanagan, of St. Louis Park, plan to head to the primary even though they lost the party’s endorsement.
Republicans, like Democrats, will have a contested primary. Pawlenty and his running mate, current Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, skipped this weekend’s endorsement process, where Republicans threw their support behind Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and his running mate Donna Bergstrom.
The DFL Party endorsed Murphy, a former nurse, for governor Saturday. Unlike other candidates, Murphy had not announced her running mate before the party’s convention. Murphy said she and Maye Quade reached an agreement in recent weeks, but she wanted to wait until after the endorsement process to see if she could create a unified ticket with those who were not endorsed.
Murphy is a St. Paul resident. Candidates for governor often select running mates from another geographic area of the state. But Maye Quade said she has a lot of family in greater Minnesota, and Murphy will be spending a lot of time traveling the state while she can focus on the metro.
Maye Quade advocated for some high-profile changes this legislative session.
She held a 24-hour sit-in at the State Capitol in April to call for gun reform. She also was an outspoken proponent for changing how the Legislature handles reports of sexual harassment, after going public with her story of receiving inappropriate text messages from fellow state Rep. Tony Cornish. He also sent texts propositioning a lobbyist and resigned after the women came forward.
Before she was elected in 2016, Maye Quade was a community organizer for the U.S. House and was a field organizer for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. If elected, Maye Quade said she wants to focus on childhood hunger, renewable energy and giving more people a voice. She would be the first woman who is openly lesbian to hold statewide office in Minnesota.
“She brings a tremendous record and a fighting spirit for the people of Minnesota,” Murphy said.
The Minnesota DFL Party also endorsed state auditor candidate Julie Blaha.
Blaha, the Minnesota AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer and a former math teacher, was competing with Jon Tollefson, a government affairs specialist for the Minnesota Nurses Association. They were looking to succeed State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who has held the office for more than a decade. Otto was running for governor, but said she would drop out if she didn’t get the party’s endorsement.
The auditor’s job is to audit and review local government spending, which amounts to approximately $20 billion a year. If elected, Blaha said she would fight alongside Minnesotans and help give communities the tools they need to find solutions.
“Progressives do not trade ethics for profits … The public good must always triumph over private greed,” she said.
Luke Hanson, a delegate from St. Paul, said he liked that Tollefson focused on fighting inequity, but was supporting Blaha. “I think Julie has the experience and the endorsements that prove she will do the job well,” Hanson said.
Republicans gathered in Duluth over the weekend, where they endorsed former state Rep. Pam Myhra, of Burnsville, for state auditor.