The convention started with a bang this morning when former gubernatorial candidate Tom Bakk announced he would put Paul Thissen's name into nomination. Bakk said he feels Thissen is best equipped to handle the state's future budget problems.
"Without any question, and over the years I've gotten to know the candidates, Paul Thissen understand our challenges," Bakk said. "In addition to our economic and financial challenges, what are we going to do with the cost of health care delivery. I think Rep Thissen understand that issue better than other candidates. Because if we can't get our hands around health care costs there isn't going to be money to do anything else because it's going to consume all the new money in the budget."
This is a blow to Tom Rukavina since Bakk is a fellow Iron Ranger.
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Delegates at the DFL State Party Convention are in the process of backing a candidate for governor. Eight candidates are vying for the endorsement. Throughout the morning, the campaigns held five minute rallies on the floor to boost support for the campaign.
Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher had the biggest presence. She danced on the floor with several hundred supporters to the song "Love Train." She later said she's stressing her Minneapolis residency and her farm background to uncommitted delegates.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's campaign started talking to delegates at 8:30 a.m. just before delegates convened. Rybak told his supporters that he was going to win the endorsement and urged them to rally around the endorsed candidate after the convention. Rybak, wearing a teal necktie, urged supporters in teal t-shirts to come together.
"Team teal," they shouted. During his speech to delegates, Rybak encouraged Democrats to rally behind his campaign. He also criticized Republican Gov.Tim Pawlenty and Republicans in the Legislature and Congress.
"We are the can do Democrats running against the party of just say no," Rybak said.
State Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, produced the biggest news of the morning when former gubernatorial candidate Tom Bakk placed Thissen's name into nomination. Bakk said Thissen is best equipped to handle the state's looming budget problem because of Thissen's health care expertise.
"If we can't get our hands around health care costs there isn't going to be money to do anything else because it's going to consume all the new money in the budget," Bakk said.
Thissen said he was honored by the endorsement. That could be a blow to State Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, who represents the Iron Range along with Bakk.
Rukavina said he's working to convince uncommitted delegates.
"I hope to give the speech of my life because there are a lot of uncommitted delegates on this floor."
State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, has been working the crowd encouraging them to support him because he backs single payer, government run, universal health care. Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Matt Entenza also put his name into nomination even though he's running in the August primary.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton's name was initially put his name into nomination but he later asked to not be considered for endorsement.
Former state Rep. Matt Entenza withdrew from the
endorsement contest during his address to the convention. Entenza plans to run in the Aug. 10 primary.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak gave the first speech of the day to DFL delegates. Rybak, a two term mayor, emphasized his background as mayor and said he has the executive leadership to lead the state. He also criticized Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's leadership over the past eight years.
He called Republicans the party of "just say no," and said after 20 years without a DFL governor, it's time for voters this fall to "just say no" to Republicans.
Rybak said DFLers must convince voters this fall that they can trust the party to manage their tax dollars. He said he was best equipped to do so because he erased a budget deficit during his time as mayor of Minnesota's largest city. He also said he has a better financial record than any of the Republicans running for governor.
Rybak said Minnesotans pull together when the going gets tough. His widowed mother ran a drugstore in south Minneapolis, and the family faced challenges, but he said people reached out when they needed help, both friends and strangers. He said that same kind of pulling-together occurred after the bridge collapse in Minnesota.
We'll put audio of Rybak's speech once it becomes available. Rybak's campaign website has posted the speech's text.
Democrat Matt Entenza delivered his speech to DFL delegates and then pulled his name from the DFL nomination for governor and said he's headed to the August primary.
"I withdrew my name from consideration so as not to be a distraction. Whoever is endorsed here this weekend survived a tough process, and a I congratulate them. Tonight is their night; they earned it."
During his ten minute speech, Entenza attacked Republican leaders and said they're too willing to accept mediocrity in schools, health care, and infrastructure investment. "We cannot cut ourselves to greatness," Entenza said.
Entenza's decision means there will be at least four candidates on the August ballot. Entenza, the endorsed candidate, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.
After Entenza announced his decision, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison pulled his support for Entenza and announced he was backing R.T. Rybak's campaign.
Rep. Paul Thissen told DFL delegates that he's the best candidate to win the endorsement. He said too many Democrats have whimpered while Governor Pawlenty has "slashed and burned the state we love."
He called on delegates to set aside "the obvious choice, the establishment candidate, the face of the DFL," and choose a fresh face for the campaign for governor. He said his candidacy would appeal to independents.
Democrat Tom Rukavina predicted he would give a rousing speech to the DFL delegates and he delivered. Calling himself the "love child between Paul Wellsone and Jesse Ventura," Rukavina said he'd fight for the little guy. During his speech, Rukavina praises his legislation that requires American flag be made in U.S. He also touted his union suit, tie and underwear.
He told delegates he could bring blue-collar workers into the fight, saying he could "light the fire that needs to be lit, fight the fight with humor and wit," Rukavina said.
Rukavina said he would work for universal single-payer health care and a fair tax system. Rukavina elicited roars of approval from the crowd, and he closed by shouting, "Come on, you know you want to join me!"
Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said she's the best candidate to end the 24 year drought of DFL candidates losing the governor's race.
"Are you ready to end it?" Kelliher exclaimed.
Kelliher said she's best equipped to do it because of her background. She mentioned growing up on the farm, her Minneapolis legislative district and her efforts electing DFL candidates to the Legislature. Kelliher also got a loud ovation when she mentioned her efforts to successfully override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of a multi-billion transportation funding bill.
Kelliher also took a few shots at her top DFL rival for the endorsement, Minneapolis Mayor R.T.Rybak. She said she was the proud parent of children in Minneapolis public schools. Rybak's children went to private school. She also said she manages a 300 person staff in the Minnesota House and was instrumental in putting together state budgets.
"It takes more than a cheerleader," Kelliher quipped.
She finished by mentioning the names of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, former Vice-President Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey.
Democrat John Marty told DFL delegates today that a DFL backed candidate can win with a progressive agenda. Marty got cheers when he pushed his plans for a single payer health plan. He also got applause for taking on special interests.
"I'm the one candidate who doesn't take PAC or lobbyist money," Marty said.
He also said he's the only DFL candidate who has won in a competitive district.
Marty also pushes greater investment in infrastructure.
Voting started which means you have time for speeches
The voting for the DFL endorsement started. It will be roughly an hour before we get the results from the first ballot.
The DFL candidates for governor gave their major speeches at the DFL Party Convention. It was basically their final push before balloting bega
You can listen to the speeches from the DFL candidates who spoke at the convention.
Entenza announced at the end of his speech that he was pulling his name out of consideration for the DFL endorsement.
Ole Savior and Peter Idusogie also gave speeches. Both say they're running in the August primary.
Delegates have given an edge to House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (365.5 or 27%) for the party endorsement for governor. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (294.5 or 21.7%) followed in second place. The battle for third went to state Rep. Paul Thissen (254.5 or 18.8%), with state Rep. Tom Rukavina (249.5 or 18.4%) close behind. State Sen. John Marty (175.5 or 13%)was fifth.
The four percent cut-off rule eliminated Matt Entenza, Peter Idusogie and Ole Savior. All three are running in the Aug. 10 primary. The cut off will increase by four percent on each subsequent ballot.
A candidate needs 60 percent to win the party endorsement. Multiple ballots are expected.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher is leading on the first ballot. She was busy working delegates in the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts. That includes the southern Twin Cities suburbs and the southern portion of the state. Kelliher didn't stop too long to convince any undecideds. It was more meet and greet with the hopes that some folks will move her way on the second ballot
R.T. Rybak, who finished second on the first ballot, worked the delegates in the 8th Congressional District which includes the Iron Range and Duluth.
Third place finisher Paul Thissen worked the 1st Congressional District which includes Rochester and the 7th Congressional District, which stretches along the state's western border.
DFL state Rep. Tom Rukavina, who finished fourth, spent the biggest amount of time thanking delegates in Minnesota's 6th District which includes St. Cloud, Anoka and other norther Twin cities suburbs.
Fifth place finisher John Marty said he spent a lot of time working the delegates in the 2nd, 4th and 8th districts.
Marty's campaign manager, Taina Macke, also said Mary and Rukavina are coordinating floor efforts but no deal has been made on whether they'll join forces later on.
The DFL drop off rule has given the big hook to Peter Idusogie, Ole Savior and Matt Entenza.
The big question is whether the numbers stay the same or start moving. Some campaigns will throw support to a different candidate on the first ballot with the idea that they'll appear to surge on the second ballot.
Second ballot results:
Margaret Anderson Kelliher -27.8 percent
R.T. Rybak - 24.5 percent support
Paul Thissen - 17.6 percent
Tom Rukavina 17.6 percent
John Marty - 10 percent support.
Marty's showing led him to drop out of the race.
"This isn't the speech I wanted to make," he told the delegates.
Before the results were released, Kelliher was busy courting delegates in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District.
"If we start moving in the right direction, can I count on you then?" Kelliher asked Ken Wilson.
"Sure," Wilson said.
"I'm in in it for the whole night," she said.
Wilson said he voted for Paul Thissen but said he wants to see which candidates appear to have momentum.
While Kelliher was busy courting delegates in the 1st and 7th Districts, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was working the 3rd Congressional District. His wife and mom were also encouraging supporters and uncommitted delegates to vote for Rybak.
Rybak and Thissen also met privately with members of the Hmong Caucus with the hopes that the group will throw its full support behind one of them.
Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, moved quickly from table to table looking for support. He declined to answer reporters questions, saying his was only talking to delegates right now. Rukvania approached delegates dressed in Kelliher, Rybak and Thissen t-shirts. As many delegates praised his convention speech, Rukavina repeatedly said that he needs their help in the endorsement battle.
The Mesabi Daily News is reporting that Margaret Anderson Kelliher is considering state Rep. Tom Anzelc as a running mate. I couldn't get Kelliher or Anzelc to comment but Kelliher's campaign manager, Jaime Tincher said Kelliher "has a short list" when asked about the story.
She said Anzelc and Dave Frederickson, former Minnesota Farmers Union president are on the list. She wouldn't share any of the other candidates on the list.
Anzelc has been rumored to be on Kelliher's short list for some time. He's a teacher, an assistant commissioner for for the Department of Human Services under former Gov. Rudy Perpich and represents the Iron Range. The latter could help Kelliher win delegates in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
State Sen. John Marty of Roseville has dropped out of the DFL endorsement for governor after two ballots at the state party convention.
Marty said 10 percent (136 votes) was not where he expected to be. He lost 3 percent from the first ballot.
"The trend wasn't right, we weren't going to win," Marty said. "I've never been in a race just to make a point. I've been in a race to win. And I think our issues are the right ones."
During a sometimes emotional concession speech, Marty told the convention that he changed the course of the debate with his advocacy for single-payer health insurance and same-sex marriage. He also pledged to run for reelection to the Minnesota Senate.
Afterwards, Marty said he had told his supporters who the best remaining candidate was on those issues, but he declined to make it public. A Marty supporter said the recommendation was state Rep. Tom Rukavina.
The long march toward a DFL endorsement for governor has now covered three ballots, with House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher still in the lead.
Delegates gave Kelliher 30.17 percent (414) of the third ballot votes. She maintains her lead over Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who received 27.4 percent (370) of the votes. State Rep. Paul Thissen remains in third place with 21.8 percent (295). State Rep.Tom Rukavina was at 19.9 percent (269) on the third ballot.
The fourth ballot is in, and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is still in the lead with 32.8 percent (437) of the vote. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak remains in second place with 28.6 percent. State Rep. Paul Thissen was third at 21.4 percent.
Before the results were announced, state Rep. Tom Rukavina announced he was dropping out of the contest. He received 17 percent of the fourth ballot vote.
Rukavina also gave a rousing endorsement of Kelliher.
"Margaret knows about the 'F' in the DFL, and while she isn't quite as me on the 'L' in the DFL, she's the best labor candidate left in this race," Rukavina said.
DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina dropped out the race and announced his support for Margaret Anderson Kelliher. This could be a critical point in the convention as the delegates vote on the 5th ballot.
After Rukavina's endorsement, Kelliher's campaign immediately dropped this pre-produced campaign literature:
The race is now down to three candidates: Kelliher, R.T. Rybak and Paul Thissen.
Rybak's campaign manager said Rukavina and Kelliher are old colleagues at the Legislature. She said she doesn't think Rukavina's supporters will vote as a block.
UPDATE: Rukavina said he's disappointed Kelliher dropped the lit. He said he didn't authorize it.
Thissen agrees. He also said he has a stronger labor voting record than Kelliher.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher continues to lead the contest for the DFL endorsmeent after five ballots, but she still hasn't cracked 50 percent.
Kelliher won 46.9 percent (630.5) of the fifth ballot votes. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak remains in second with 32.3 percent (434).
State Rep. Paul Thissen stalled in third at 20.1 percent (269.5). Following the announcement of the results, Thissen made his concession speech.
A candidate needs 60 percent to win the DFL endorsement.
Democrat Paul Thissen dropped out of the race for governor and won't back Margaret Anderson Kelliher or R.T. Rybak.
"My voters are independent minded," Thissen said.
Meanwhile, Renew Minnesota won't vote as a block. Organizers said they didn't reach a concensus to get to sixty percent support for one candidate.
Kelliher wasn't taking any chances. She was getting plenty of hugs from Rybak supporters, Thissen supporters and Marty supporters. Kelliher wouldn't say if she would lock up the endorsement.
"We're working this. This is a thing you earn," Kelliher said.
We're now waiting for the results from the sixth ballot.
DFL delegates have endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher as their candidate for governor.
Rybak's concession speech stressed the need for party unity.
"Fellow Democrats, it's time for the greatest party in the state of Minnesota to come together and support Margaret Anderson Kelliher for governor," Rybak said. "I am withdrawing from the race, and I'm also publicly calling on Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza and Susan Gaertner do the same."
During her victory speech, Kelliher asked delegates if they were ready to make history. She also said her campaign will highlight the DFL's progressive ideals.
"We must and can do better for Minnesotans," Kelliher said. "And we are going to take our message all across the state, every corner of the state, every place. We are going to work together to build the greatest strongest grassroots organization this state has ever seen."
Here's Kelliher's acceptance speech: Listen