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Klobuchar nearly sweeps Beltrami DFL delegates

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar nearly swept delegation selection Sunday at the Beltrami County DFL Convention.

The gubernatorial race was more clouded, as Attorney General Mike Hatch and Sen. Steve Kelley split delegates but with half still uncommitted.

With Beltrami County sending eight delegates to the State DFL Convention in June, Hennepin County Attorney Klobuchar picked up seven in delegates elected by the 86 voting convention goers.

The lone dissenter, Jim Heltzer, who is also a Beltrami County commissioner, wouldn't say who he would vote for as a delegate, saying "the war in Iraq is the chief issue and we need to get out. I would vote for the candidate making that clear."

The candidate who has made getting U.S. troops out of Iraq by year's end is Twin Cities veterinarian Ford Bell, who spoke to Beltrami delegates Sunday afternoon at the Northern Inn.

Bell said that while 2,600 Americans have died in Iraq, Iraqi civilian casualties exceed 100,000. And the United States is spending $6 billion a month on the war. "It's another example of the old, rich and powerful sending the young, poor and dutiful to war."

While Klobuchar didn't attend the convention, her position was supported by Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, who spoke on her behalf, calling her a strong candidate to send against GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, the likely Republican senatorial candidate.

The convention agreed, electing seven state delegates who said they support Klobuchar -- Steve Newby, Lisa Boulay, Rita Albrecht, Julie Albrecht, Pam McCrory, Michael Meuers and Mike Simpkins.

The same eight delegates also gave their preferences in the race for governor, but that wasn't as clear, Two support Hatch and two support Kelley, while four delegates said they were as yet undecided and remain uncommitted.

Hatch spoke to the delegates, as well as Sen. Becky Lourey. Simpkins spoke on behalf of Kelley, but no one spoke for Twin Cities real estate developer Kelly Doran. Of the four, only Kelley has said he will support the DFL endorsement process.

The convention also elected eight alternates to further conventions, and they also stood with seven for Klobuchar and one who didn't indicate a preference. Two said they would support Hatch and one for Kelley, with five uncommitted.

With Beltrami County split into two congressional districts, Newby and Boulay will be delegates to the 8th District DFL Convention in Duluth while the rest are delegates to the 7th District event which is April 22 in Bemidji.

The State DFL Convention is June 9-11 at Rochester, Minn.