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2018 DFL State Convention Day 3

by Eric Ferguson on June 3, 2018 · 4 comments

This is the day 3 live blog. Day 1 (US Senate, secretary of state, and my explanation of convention procedures for newbies) is here, and day 2 (governor and AG) is here.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

And it’s auditor day, and maybe the lieutenant governor endorsement. The filing deadline is Tuesday, so Erin Murphy will have to announce quickly if she hasn’t already. I’m not there today and trying to tune in to the livestream, but so far it isn’t working. While we’re waiting, I’d like to handicap the auditor race: no idea. No information to go on at all. When I mentioned it to anybody, no one was even thinking about it with governor sucking up all the attention. Might be well to remember that governors Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson held the state auditor position. Rebecca Otto didn’t get endorsed, but being auditor made her an immediate serious candidate for governor or whatever else she should choose to run for. So even aside from the actual job, it matters.

The livestream is up. Someone from the nominations committee moved to suspend the rules so the agenda can be changed to debate party nominations now. It passed. Nomination were the last business and if the auditor endorsement goes long, I could well imagine no one staying for that. The nominations committee screens candidates for party offices. Their recommended candidates are considered nominated. Normally someone gets nominated from the floor and forces a really long election procedure. In a way nominations is a thankless job, because members spend a long time interviewing and considering candidates, and the state committee had to travel to a bunch of places across the state. If you’re on the livestream, you hear them describing just about a half-time job, yet convention delegates tend to disregard their recommendations. This isn’t from some objection to the process. It’s from knowing nothing about the process. Unfortunately, this means delegates vote knowing nothing about the candidates but what they heard from each in a speech of maybe a couple minutes. Sometimes convention rules include a requirement that candidates nominated from the floor must have screened. The chair just mentioned that this convention has that rule. There might still be a disappointed candidate who forces the floor to spend a bunch of time on a vote. Someone just asked to reopen the nominations to increase geographical diversity. Nominations were open the current business — a rule of thumb if you’re a convention delegate, before you grab the microphone, think hard. You’re likely to look a little silly. No other nominations, already done. Yeah.

State chair Ken Martin just spoke as a delegate and made a motion for a sense of the body resolution calling on the state government and the DNC to allow caucus participation by people who meet the residency requirements to participate but otherwise lack voting rights. Another speaker is making it clear that this is about immigrants. It might be about re-enfranchising former felons too. That means to participate in caucuses, you would only have to be 18 by election day and live in the precinct. Yes, the next speaker makes it clear it’s also about felon voting rights, and made the point about the big hole in Minnesota’s law: felons don’t get told when their rights are restored. Almost every single case of “voter fraud” is actually registering illegally by people who wrongly thought they had their rights back. We’ll never know how many eligible voters stayed away for fear of going back to jail for voting illegal. Conservatives are never bothered by that last part. The resolution passed.

Just to clarify, as this wasn’t mentioned in the debate, ineligible voters can already attend the caucuses and can run for party office, but they can’t be elected as convention delegates. This resolution didn’t change that. Just called for it to be changed in law and DNC rules.

A guest speaker from AFSCME is talking about public workers bing under imminent threat of the right to organize being taken away. The US Supreme Court is considering a case calling for that, and this court is likely to do it. That’s the result of Trump getting to pick SCOTUS justices. Tried to explain this to the more-pure-than-thou types who wouldn’t vote for Hillary. I hope their purity is comfort to them as other people’s lives are wrecked.

Now they’re voting on whether to give some resolutions special consideration. There’s a ballot with a pile of resolutions that came from the precinct caucuses through the organizing units (counties or senate districts) and are mostly voted on with that ballot. They voted to consider three of them on the floor.

They’re discussing the procedures of considering resolutions. Sounds like there was a small screw up by not having delegate packets for alternates too, and the rules weren’t clear. Even though some delegates were again proving my point about speaking at the microphone as a delegate entails the likelihood of making yourself ridiculous, those were reasonable points, even if made unreasonably (nobody is setting out to make your life harder!)


The chair has taken the opportunity to move past the resolutions which are bit mucked up right now by taking an awkwardly stated point and asking the delegate if she moving to do such and such that allows putting off the resolutions and getting on with something else while the issues with ballots and packets get fixed. Smooth.

While my wife and I were watching the video tribute to the DFLers who died since the last convention, lots of people obviously, she was reminded of the expression (Scottish?), “Who’s like us? Damned few, and they’re dead.”
She’s right. Looked it up. “Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re a’deid.” With paperwork issues settled, they’re back on resolutions. They’re discussing a resolution opposing “right to work”, which is using the other sides phrasing and thereby their frame. How can anyone oppose a right to work? Call it something else. I like “right to freeload” as a pejorative, and “right to organize” as our frame.

They’re debating replacement language for the resolution being considered. I’m going to opine and say that resolutions being considered for the platform should be kept in the written ballot and not debated. Most of the discussion has been about process and resulting confusion. Allowing special consideration just created problems.

As they talk about changing the resolution language, they’r egetting into the framing issue I discussed above, even though they aren’t using the word “framing”. If you use the other side’s framing, they’ve practically won the debate already.

While I was away just now (I missed how the “right to work” resoltution came out, but pretty sure whatever language was final got passed) I was able to go look up who the Republicans endorsed for the state constitutional offices. I’ve never known why they’re called that. The term refers to secretary of state (SOS), attorney general (AG), and auditor. The MNGOP endorsed Doug Wardlow for AG, John Howe for AG, and Pam Myhra for auditor.

Right now they’re going over a resolution about eminent domain. There’s more disagreement here because it can be abused to take land for private gain, and for projects that are for community benefit. It’s something of a repeat in that they’re debating language changes.

Went to look up what we have from past posts on the endorsed MNGOPers. Doug Wardlow is a treat. Prepare to re-learn the term “tenther”. I found just this one post on John Howe. Pam Myhra is a bit of a cipher.
Sigh. The chair is having to explain over and over that time for special consideration has passed, and a motion to extend time failed. Yet people keep asking to extend it. Delegates are being given time to focus on their resolution ballots without other business going on. The delegates just voted to not give themselves that time, and move on to the constitution report. This is about proposed changes to the state party constitution.

The constitution commission is dealing with party rules, so real obscure stuff unless you’re the one who has to put together conventions and central committees and follow these rules. I just got done with three terms as an SD chair, so I had to know about this stuff. My brain still cares while knowing it’s not really my problem any more. Parties have to have rules though, so if you want to be active in the party, sometimes this affects you.

Guessing almost no one cares about the specific constitution changes, I went and looked up Pam Myhra again, and now I see why here name was vaguely familiar. She hasn’t been real high profile, but has come up in the past, unfortunately for stuff like backing photo ID laws right after the constitutional amendment was voted down in 2012.

Regarding the top of the ticket MNGOP endorsees, Jim Newberger is in Doug Wardlow’s league as candidates who make you ask if real political parties nominate people like this. The most recent post was one of mine, Rep. Jim Newberger enters biggest legislative jerk contest. Karin Housely came up just once here on MPP, for something goofy. Jeff Johnson, unsurprisingly, last came up when he was last relevant, when he ran for governor in 2014. So there are your headstarts on finding out who these Republicans are.

The convention is now deciding which constitution changes are substantive enough to need special consideration. They voted to consider three items, so they’re going to approve the rest and suspend the rules so they can put off special consideration and get on to the auditor race. A delegate pointed out that the crowd is getting thinner as people can’t stay and they’re there to endorse for auditor. Endorsements are always put last because delegates won’t stay and there isn’t a quorum for other business, except when a convention is electing delegates to another convention, like when organizing unit conventions elected delegates to this convention. Nominations for auditor just opened.

Just the two expected candidates were nominated. They’re going to do their 15 minute speeches/videos. Jon Tollefson is taking about a laundry list of issues. I get the problem for auditor candidates in that the job is rather technical. They audit the books of local governments, and the job is obscure enough that when I interviewed Rebecca Otto at the 2014 convention she had to explain parts of the job to me. 2014 was such a low profile year for the DFL, all reporters were at the MNGOP convention and I was the whole media section, seriously, and some staffer asked me to go interview her. I recall starting out by apologizing to her because I had no idea what I was doing.

Julia Blaha’s video is running now. Like with Tollefson, her presentation is about how good she is at reaching out and being supportive of different people. Just to get potential biases out in the open, I haven’t met Jon Tollefson. I chaired a SD central committee meeting where he spoke, which just means I recognized him and thanked him, and he has no reason to remember me. Blaha chaired a SD convention I organized, so I met her a liked her, though she chairs enough conventions that she has no reason to remember me and I can’t say I know her. I think she has the deeper resume for this particular job. Tollefson is probably fine. I get why they talk about values, but the auditor job is really about accountability in local government and helping local governments be in compliance. Otto could talk about environmental issues because of boards the auditor sits on that deal with things like permits to mine. That’s where an auditor can stretch beyond auditing and into policy. So that, and auditors sometimes running for senator and governor, is where the policy parts come in. So I suppose I want to hear from candidates that they get that the job they seek is about checking the account books. Blaha gave a short speech, making the point that she often had to explain what the auditor does. Like I said earlier, I have no idea who has more delegates. I’m livestreaming today, so can’t talk to delegates or see the signs or t-shirts for any indication. Besides, we’ll have an actual vote shortly.

State Rep. Scott Hanson (SP?) spoke encouraging people to run for soil and water conservation district supervisor. If you’ve ever wanted to run for public office, there’s an obscure one where you might be the only candidate in some places. I admit having no idea what they do.

Someone present at the convention tells me there are more Blaha signs in the non-metro delegations, and metro is more Tollefson. I didn’t catch where Tollefson is from. Blaha is from the suburbs. Someone no-metro once told me it’s OK to say “rural”, but I’m including cities like Rochester, Duluth, etc. that are clearly not rural or suburban.

A “thumb on the scales” moment was just narrowly averted. Fortunately whoever decided the timing of showing the women in the DFL women’s hall of fame video wisely waited until balloting was done. Julie Blaha was shown in that video. Someone from the group running that just said they didn’t display this year’s inductees because they’re currently running campaigns or are candidates and that would bias things before the endorsements are settled. Good move.

First ballot in. Blaha 55, Tollefson 43. They’re going to ballot number 2, and I’m guessing enough Tollefson and no endorsement delegates join Blaha to put her over the top.

Someone present tells me delegates look ready to bolt when the endorsement is done. On the one hand, that’s why the endorsements are always last, unless there are delegates to be elected to the next convention, in which case that has to go last because it’s long and boring and everybody leaves when it’s done, so no other business happens. There’s a chance they won’t get to the special consideration of some constitution changes for lack of quorum. Someone opposed to a change could just toss it to the next state central committee meeting by pointing out there’s no quorum. They’re voting now.

64A DFL just held an endorsing convention for Erin Murphy’s seat. They endorsed Kaohly Her.

We must have an endorsement and expectation delegates will leave, because Ken Martin the state chair is thanking the staff, convention chairs, and committee heads. They should be thanked because it’s a huge amount of work they did. So I’ll join in, thanks.

Tollefson just withdrew, so Blaha is endorsed, but Tollefson didn’t endorse, so that makes me guess he’s going to the primary. If so, we have contested primaries for auditor, governor, AG, and US Senate B (Smith). That’s a lot. At least SOS and Senate A (Klobuchar) will fly by. Republicans will have a contest for governor, and no idea about that other offices, but the filing deadline is in two days and candidates get I think five days to withdraw, and then we’ll know for sure.

Erin Murphy is announcing her running mate. State Rep. Erin Maye Quade. My first reaction is she’s a first term legislator, which is worrisome. And this takes the incumbent from a swing seat right before the filing deadline. Giving a seat away? May Quade is suburban and non-white, so there’s regional and demographic balance. She appeals to the same base as Murphy, which is metro-centric, when she needs to work on her appeal outstate. May Quade can be used against her while not adding anything. This was a move that would shore up the metro vote for the endorsement, but she has that already. I like her, but not as Murphy’s running mate. She gave a good speech, but how many people hear a speech by the LG candidate? The urban base already had their candidate, and Murphy just handed Republicans a stick to beat her with.

Not that we should expect much enthusiasm for constitution changes, but motions to adjourn and to send the constitution changes to the state central committee both failed. They’re going on to debate allowing local units to elect officers at a business conference instead of a convention. Right now, they can hold separate conventions to elect officers, or when doing their other business. The conventions would decide whether to hold the business conferences. I was alarmed at the idea of having to hold yet another convention in a busy urban/suburban district, but a business conference for officer elections makes sense. Convention delegates simply don’t care about officer elections and even try to put them off to get on to more interesting business. I’d vote yes. It failed.

I’m seeing “Erin2” as a … slogan? theme? and that’s good. It appeals just to the base that’s enthusiastic, but it’s clever enough to be memorable.

They’re debating a amendment to allow 72 hours notice by electronic means for meetings where there are no elections, endorsement, or by-laws being considered. Right now all meetings need 10 days notice. Credit to delegates for staying there still and talking about this.

Debate stopped when a quorum was lacking. They had a motion to adjourn, which technically they couldn’t because once there’s no quorum, you’re just done. So the convention is over. Thank you for reading and kudos to you for getting all the way to the end.
From Mac Hall: “Murphy just handed Republicans a stick to beat her with.” Even if the Republicans don’t brand her with a nickname, they will brand her based on her past statements and issue stands … which will only play to their base. Elections are all about turnout … and this pick can only help Republicans.
Frankly, why did Murphy pick Erin Maye Quade ? I comprehend her political positions, but does she have the experience and political moxie to be Governor if something happened to Murphy ? If her issues are important to her, wouldn’t being an active member of the legislature be a better spot than Lt. Gov ? Even from a practical political standpoint, doesn’t her leaving 57A just benefit the MNGOP candidate — Matt Lundin — after all this was a long time MNGOP seat until Tara Mack had a “parking” problem … remember Maye Quade only won by less than 1,200 votes.
IMO — Murphy made a blunder. Too many Minnesotans don’t know anything about wannabe Governor Murphy to begin with, but she has a good story to tell … but this was the wrong choice … it makes me wonder who else she considered … and if anyone refused.
Thus, the question that needs to be asked :
Is it time to eliminate the Lt. Gov position ?
Are you excited that Donna Bergstrom may be your next LtGuv ?
Let’s ignore the fact that she failed to get the GOP endorsement for 7A in 2014 and failed in a state senate race in 2016 garnering less than 35% of the vote … and focus in on the fact that soon-to-be-Governor Jeff Johnson has named her his choice.
What are the duties of the Lt. Gov. ? It must be fishing … ’cause at the MNGOP convention, former Governor Tim Pawlenty Lt. Gov Carol Molnau convention video address (played by the Johnson campaign) “I had a lot of fun with him at the fishing openers. I wish him well, but I’m not looking forward to seeing him in St. Paul.”
Who was the last Lt. Gov. that ever went on to be elected to another office … (remember that Tina Smith was appointed, so ya can’t say her … and it’s too early for Michelle Fischbach as she needs a Pawlenty win this year) … Rudy Perpich is probably the right answer.
I doubt that Maye Quade is gonna add any more votes on the DFL side, but she will motivate Republicans. Fishchbach or Bergstrom are safe choices … they won’t add any GOP votes but they won’t motivate anyone to go to the polls to vote for the DFL candidate.
From Jules: Minor correction: A representative of the Women’s Hall of Fame actually said there would be no 2018 event because too many members of the event planning committee were currently running campaigns or are candidates themselves. I believe 2019 Nominations can be made here.
From Dan: Quade is the worst Lt. Govenor pick ever, and part of the worst DFL endorsed ticket ever. And that includes John Marty and Roger Moe and whoever they picked.
The entry of Swanson and Nolan makes it a lot more difficult for Walz and Flanagan to win the primary. Murphy and Quade will get absolutely destroyed outstate and will lose the election badly. Outstate reps and the congressional candidates in the 1st, 7th and 8th will have to distance themselves from Murphy and Quade. They might even take down Tina Smith.
This is a nightmare. This is the end of Minnesota as a blue state. We’re gonna get everything Wisconsin got. Stand your ground and lots more guns. The minimum wage and sick leave laws in Minneapolis will be preempted and repealed and St.Paul’s won’t happen. Voter ID. Medicaid work requirements if medicaid expansion isn’t dropped altogether. Cuts to schools. Cuts to transit. It just goes on and on.
Its time to move.

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