DFL CONVENTION NOTEBOOK: Running mate speculation center stageState Democratic convention delegates picked the top of the governor's ticket late Saturday, but now speculation about who Margaret Anderson Kelliher will select as a running mate intensifies.
By: Don Davis, E/P State Capitol Bureau
DULUTH, Minn. -- State Democratic convention delegates picked the top of the governor's ticket late Saturday, but now speculation about who Margaret Anderson Kelliher will select as a running mate intensifies.
There were few hints from the Kelliher camp about who she might like to run for lieutenant governor with her, or even the type of person she would prefer.
Rep. Tom Anzelc of northern Minnesota's Balsam Lake said the Kelliher campaign has talked to him for a month about the prospects.
"I'd be willing to discuss it further," he said as the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor's state convention neared its end late Saturday.
Anzelc, in the Minnesota House less than four years, said there was no running mate talk with him during the convention.
Ending such talk might be just fine with a fellow Northland lawmaker.
State Sen. Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids said that he does not want an Iron Ranger to be pulled out of the Legislature as even some of the junior members are gaining all-important seniority.
Saxhaug himself, for instance, will be due a committee chairmanship when one comes open.
If Kelliher asked for Saxhaug's advice, he might suggest a male from southwestern Minnesota to help balance Kelliher's gender and Minneapolis home.
The convention did not take up the running mate debate, leaving that to the DFL State Central Committee next month. The panel is expected to rubber-stamp Kelliher's decision.
More new delegates
Sharon Josephson has been to a lot of DFL state conventions and said the weekend gathering in Duluth featured more youth and new delegates than any she recalls.
"It's a new generation," said the aide to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.
She said that perhaps some young delegates were drawn into the party from the Barack Obama presidential campaign of two years ago.
But Aaron Wittnebel of Lake Park said that does not fully explain the number of young activists.
The Obama campaign concentrated only on the presidential race, not trying to get youths involved in state or party politics.
"They never solved the problem of how you keep them on the team," Wittnebel said of Democrats.
First-time delegate, and young mother, Mary Kvebak of Detroit Lakes enjoyed the convention, but did get tired of campaigns trying to woe her to their side.
"I quit answering my phone," she admitted.
Another Detroit Lakes delegate, Kathy Coyle, was thrilled to attend her first convention after years in the Fargo-Moorhead media.
"We've had a blast," she said.
Even as a new delegate, Coyle understood the convention's mission: "We want to win no matter what."
No Sunday work
Democrats slipped work in between ballots in the governor endorsement race Saturday so effectively that they did not return to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Sunday morning to wrap up business as had been scheduled.
The convention featured little of the argument about platform planks that often punctuates, and lengthens, Democratic conventions.
Delegates did their work in one long day, lasting about 16 hours, and one half day.
An 18-month-old Democratic movement established to push the idea that government can help Minnesotans ran an extensive convention effort, but in the end did not vote as a bloc or play the determining role in the endorsement as some had expected.
reNEW Minnesota maintained its own "war room" to keep track of convention activities and coordinate members, complete with two-way radios and a computer bank. But shortly before Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak dropped out of the race, leaving House Speaker Kelliher as the convention's pick, reNEW members could not decide on a candidate to back.
The group had picked Kelliher, Rybak and state Rep. Paul Thissen as its top three candidates and planned to at some point vote together on one of them.
Not enough of its members agreed on a single candidate. Rybak fell just short of the group's 60 percent requirement to win reNEW's backing.
Minnesota's Republican chairman gave a clear indication of how his party will fight Kelliher if she emerges from an August primary.
"Given her votes for higher taxes on income, gasoline and sales, it is clear Minnesota cannot afford Margaret Anderson Kelliher as governor," Chairman Tony Sutton said. "Kelliher's support for new tax increases and runaway spending will cause her candidacy to fall flat in the suburbs and greater Minnesota."
One of two leading Republican governor candidates said Friday's GOP convention will produce a candidate his party supports.
"The DFL will have a bruising primary battle for months," state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall said. "One thing is certain: Each of the DFL candidates for governor will promise higher taxes, more spending and greater government intrusion in our lives."