The Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, NC tomorrow but Minnesota's delegates will be without some key figures.
Just three of the six DFL members of Congress are expected to be in Charlotte this week. Rep. Keith Ellison is already in town hobnobbing with delegates and others. He has a full speaking schedule over the course of the week. Ellison, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he uses the convention to build relationships.
"I just think as a person who is offering some support and leadership to our party that I can't be missing in action," Ellison said.
Ellison added that his campaign has been working to identify DFL voters to turn out on Election Day. He said going to the convention will help with that grassroots work.
Spokespeople say Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken will be in town for all or part of the convention. Gov. Mark Dayton is also expected to attend. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is scheduled to address the convention on Tuesday.
Democratic Representatives Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum are not attending the DNC at all.
Walz represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District and has been targeted by Republicans since he defeated GOP Rep. Gil Gutknecht in 2006. But Sara Severs, the campaign manager for Walz, says Walz isn't avoiding Charlotte for fear of being linked to President Obama.
"Congressman Walz and Gwen Walz do not plan to attend the 2012 convention due to other commitments in Minnesota, most importantly the first day of kindergarten and 6th grade for their two children," Severs wrote in an e-mail. "However, they have been clear about their support for President Obama and wish everyone working on the convention a successful event."
A spokeswoman says McCollum is planning a large "watch party" for President Obama's speech on Thursday night at the Vadnais Heights Commons Convention Center on Thursday.
None of the other DFL candidates for Congress are planning to attend the DNC either.
Democrats aren't the only people who decided to skip the party conventions this year. GOP Representatives John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack decided not to visit Tampa for last week's Republican National Convention. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills also decided against making the trip to Florida.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann served as a delegate to the convention and also worked the convention crowd.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who failed in his bid to be the party's nominee for president, had a speaking role at the convention.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Allen Quist, who is challenging Walz in Minnesota's 1st District, attended the RNC.