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The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

This is the promised follow up to Changing how the DFL endorses gubernatorial candidates where somehow I had a long post and didn’t get to what the title implied. So, the primary is over, and we have another data point. A gubernatorial endorsee lost again.
The main reason Erin Murphy lost should be obvious, at least if you looked at the results by CD: she did terrible outside the Twin Cities metro area. She did win CDs 4 and 5, but not by much, whereas Tim Walz cleaned up in his district, CD1, and got right around 40% everywhere else. Murphy needed to do that well in her central city base, and she didn’t.
Murphy did catch a break when the Lori Swanson campaign imploded. I noted, as the results came in, how if Murphy’s percentage went up, Swanson’s went down by the same amount, and visa-versa. The preelection polls had massive numbers of undecideds, and Murphy and Walz went way up from their poll numbers as undecideds decided, but Swanson actually went down. I’m convinced Murphy was the big beneficiary of Swanson’s problems (self-inflicted — I don’t think Murphy pulled something) but that wasn’t enough to overcome the perception she was too metro-centric. That gets us to the error in choosing a running mate.


Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 1 comment

Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state conventionSo by now, you’ve likely had your head spinning from the news from the DFL side regarding who is running for what, and lots of candidates coming out of the woodwork to run for this and switch to that, and run for something when they were running for something else. It’s interesting, at least to a politics junkie, and you’re reading this web site, so…

You were likely looking at the governor race, and this involves that to be sure. You may not have been following closely enough to know the candidate filing period just closed, or you heard but didn’t care what that meant. The weirdness has a whole lot to do with that however. It all starts, however, with the race for state attorney general (AG). Yes, an office a lot of people haven’t even heard of.

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2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.


DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).



DFL state convention live blog

by Eric Ferguson on June 1, 2014 · 9 comments

I’m at the DFL state convention, and I’ll be live blogging it, which means I’ll be posting updates below. The video above is an introduction similar to this, just for kicks. Feel free to subscribe to my channel. I may post video updates if opportunity arises, but I’ll generally be where people are trying to talk or people are trying to hear, so no promises, but I’ll see if I can show some of what goes on at a convention. Otherwise I’ll be posting what’s happening, maybe with an opinion since I’m allowed to do that. It’s a blog you know, and I’m not pretending to be a reporter or to be without biases. Jump to a preview of what’s going to happen.
Late Saturday update: The Saturday portion of this live blog got very long and made the front page a long scroll, and there are other posts worth reading. So I’m putting the “read more” below this paragraph, and the time stamped updates start on the jump. As expected, life required my presence at home, but I plan to live blog Sunday too, if I can get The Uptake’s stream working for me (quickie update: it worked). I suppose it depends on traffic, but I should have a better connection anyway. The mining resolution is expected to be the controversial part of the platform debates. Guess we’ll watch and see. Some things, like the constitution changes, might be inside baseball, but leave a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer.



A week ago, Sharon Sund was endorsed by acclimation during the early part of the DFL 3rd Congressional District  Party’s convention in Maple Grove.  Party activist and former CD3 Chair, George Greene nominated Sund.  The seconding and the voice vote took a few additional seconds putting Sund in the ring with G.O.P.  incumbent Eric Paulsen.

Sund photo


Two years ago, Brian Barnes won the DFL  CD3 Party endorsement over Sund.  Barnes went on to lose to the conservative Eden Prairie Republican.

Sund’s early endorsements include Congressman Keith Ellison, MN 2020 founder and former State Rep Matt Entenza, Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, former State Rep. Betty Folliard, State Rep. Mike Nelson (40A), and Democracy for America.   I have assembled video that I had lensed of Sharon’s endorsement and post-endorsement speech into a segment for the next edition of Democratic Visions.  The segment contains only a portion of Sharon Sund’s speech.

Sharon Sund’s campaign website is here.

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Keith Ellison and the broken edge of the bottle

by Eric Ferguson on May 4, 2014 · 2 comments

“You see the red? That’s the Republicans. They’re lower than us by a lot. But guess what. That line, it waves up and down, but it’s pretty steady. Don’t you think so? Look at our line. It looks like the broken edge of a bottle.”
US Rep. Keith Ellison was endorsed for reelection at yesterday’s CD5 DFL convention. The video is his endorsement and speech, starting with a nomination by Sen. Al Franken. He’s unimpressed with his own win and thinks no one else should be impressed either, not in such a safely blue district. When he won his first election in 2006, the fifth district had a lack of turnout but plenty of excuses why it as last in among Minnesota’s congressional districts in turnout. He didn’t accept those excuses, and in 2012 it topped the state. It comes down to one of the best ground games in the nation. You can hear him making the point to the delegates that if you aren’t helping with the ground game, you’re really not helping. For reasons I can’t fathom, many of his Democratic colleagues are unwilling to engage in a ground game and improve turnout beyond what’s necessary to eke out their own reelections. Do they refuse to believe the ground game matters? Do they not care about the other Democrats on the ballot? Maybe there’s something about the state’s political culture that assumes a serious ground game. Don’t really know. We do know that we can’t win the House or state legislature by improving turnout in safe districts, but we sure can win statewide elections, and stop the noxious Republicans who have caused all sorts of damage from the governor’s office, as state attorneys general or secretaries of state.
I have to think the Republicans know what a difference turnout in this district has made, given that photo ID advocates (“photo ID” please, stop saying “voter ID”, not the same thing) tried to impose it in just Minneapolis. Or maybe they were just acting from the Republican principle that urban votes, by definition, shouldn’t count. “But we won most of the counties!” “Look how red the map is!” “Excluding the cities Minneapolis and St. Paul, I — as the Republican candidate — actually won the state by approximately 6 percentage points. That last quote is real; from Tom Emmer, defeated 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who is now running for Congress — in a non-urban district now represented by Michele Bachmann.
This video looks like it was shot with a phone camera at the back of the hall, and, well, there’s a good reason for that. Did my best to clean it up, and the sound is tolerable. Maybe treat it like radio. The other videos are State Attorney General Lori Swanson, running for reelection, and State Rep. Deb Hilstrom, seeking party endorsement for the open seat for Secretary of State. A representative from her opponent, State Rep. Steve Simon, spoke before I got there.




Is 64B headed for no endorsement?

by Grace Kelly on February 23, 2014 · 5 comments


Today I heard that the 64 endorsing convention starts at noon and has to end at 6:30. Normally, the starting convention business takes two hours. Senate District 64 always goes to sub-caucusing for delegates, which takes 2 hours. The 6-candidate race for the 64B state representative is last on the agenda. A 64B endorsement takes an hour to start, then ballot turnaround is at best a half hour. To get to one candidate from 6 candidates would likely take 4 ballots and could take 8 ballots. Any controversy adds an hour. My calculations show a need for 7 hours with the possibility of going 11 hours.


Add two more factors. The proposed rules prevent central committee endorsement. The last item on the agenda is the 64b endorsement. Any non-winning campaign now has the ability to slow down the convention to no endorsement.


So what options do we have?


1) Start at 9:30 AM on a Sunday, making some people angry about violating the standard Sunday sleep-in time or religious-service time. Current discussions have proposed 11:00 AM.


2) Negotiate with the school, paying all needed fees and penalties.


3) Get a different site.


4) Get rid of the central committee rule of no endorsement which would make the central committee elections the substitute for the actual endorsement race. A central committee endorsement also tends to make people angry.


5) Ramrod the schedule. Allow NO interruption speeches until voting pauses. Skip all 64B speeches and debate.Move 64b ahead of other business to allow business to happened during vote counting.Rushed conventions tend make people very angry because they are inherently unfair.


6) Plan to suspend the convention and have business finish at a second meeting.


7) Move 64b endorsement above state and county delegate selection and have that business go to a suspended second convention.


8) Use Ranked Choice Voting to get the top two candidates. Hopefully the convention could then get to the 60% endorsement vote in the second ballot.


A combination of solutions might be needed. The problem with fairness and people moving to lower choice candidates is that it takes time. Without time, this is going to upset people. Remember there is no ranked choice in this election. A no endorsement could give Republicans an opportunity. The DFL cannot afford no endorsement in this race.
Updated: As Dan so rightfully pointed, there is a DFL primary. However, I still think that a high primary cost with a low primary vote is not a good choice.



How Rules Matter in an Endorsing Convention

by Grace Kelly on February 12, 2014 · 3 comments

gavelFor an endorsement to have the proper weight, it has to be perceived as fair. An “unfairness” perception could handicap a candidate or even an elected official. That is why Dai Thao’s campaign (Ward 1 City Council) decided not to push the convention even though he was leading and close to endorsement. That action gave Dai Thai good will and respect from all delegates. With “no endorsement”, Dai Thao went on to win the city council race in a wide-open field. As Jules Goldstein says, that people need to feel like they had a fair chance to make their case. Obviously, not everyone can win but everyone can feel like they had their say.
In St Paul, people stay here and they never forget a perceived unfairness. While some people quit politics and the party, some activists tell their stories forever. Indeed, the story of the Karl Rolvaag versus Sandy Keith 1966 contest for governorship is still being told. When significant people show up from a previous campaign, known for its unfair tactics, then people are doubly wary.
One of my roles as a member of the state executive committee was looking out for fairness in convention processes. Anyone who sees me would have a hard time believing that I am an “enforcer”. Yet I did that. I did it by knowing the rules and where to put pressure. A newcomer asked how rules are important. So here is my list of what rules are important and why those rules are important. Feel free to add more in comments. If everyone is rules-smart, then conventions will have to be fair.
At precinct caucuses or through other processes, one is asked to serve on committees. The committees become another part of election contest, so smart campaigns try to have a strong presence on the committees. The rules committee is really the top committee for determining procedures, but it defers to other committees in their areas. So a significant amount of communication has to go between committees so all the rules work together.
The interaction of adjournment and endorsement – Rules Committee


Precinct caucuses are February 4th

by Eric Ferguson on December 23, 2013 · 1 comment

That headline is true for all parties since the state sets the date, a date that’s too early if I may editorialize, and this is a blog, so … why can’t caucuses go back to March? OK, editorializing done. What follows might not apply to parties other than the DFL. Like I mention when I think there might be need for disclosure that my blogging is separate from being a local party chair, I’m a local party chair. Specifically Senate District 63. Which mean planning the caucuses and SD63 convention is my problem, the necessary but less fun part of the job.


The caucuses on Feb. 4th convene at 7PM. Sign-in begins at 6:30. The Secretary of State’s office will have precinct caucus finder eventually, though they don’t at this writing, so here’s a link to the SOS web site section on elections. The state DFL also has a district finder which will tell you your legislative district, congressional district, etc.


If you happen to live in my senate district, and presumably that’s true of one in 67 of you (to resolve the quizzical looks, Minnesota has 67 state senate districts), you can get caucus location information now on the SD63 web site.


The state DFL has made a video showing what happens at a precinct caucus. The actors are grassroots DFLers who did a terrific job. If you think I’m saying that because I know a bunch of them and they might read this, um, OK, maybe partly I suppose. But really, this explains the process well:


The video used the phrase “organizing unit”, which I think can use some more explanation, albeit at the risk of going into more detail than strictly necessary, but here goes.

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