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DFL gubernatorial candidates gather in Walker on Saturday

Democratic gubernatorial have been invited to a two-DFL-unit forum Saturday at Walker.

The Beltrami County and Cass County political units of the Minnesota DFL will hold the forum at Northern Lights Casino south of Walker.

It's the second of four gubernatorial candidate forums in the Bemidji area in two weeks.

Invited to Saturday's event are DFL announced candidates Tom Bakk, Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, Susan Gaertner, Steve Kelley, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, John Marty, Tom Rukavina, R.T. Rybak, Paul Thissen and Ole Savior.

All but Gaertner and Savior were in Bemidji Jan. 14 for an American Indian issues forum at BSU's American Indian Resource Center. Although invited to the bipartisan event, no Republican gubernatorial candidates attended.

The Beltrami County Republicans are sponsoring a governor's candidates forum Tuesday at BSU's Beaux Arts Ballroom at which all current GOP candidates have apparently committed to attend.

Finally, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa's political education committee is sponsoring a bipartisan governor's candidates' forum Jan. 30 at the new Red Lake Casino. So far, four DFL candidates have confirmed and no Republican candidates.

Saturday's DFL candidate forum is 5:30-9 p.m. at Northern Lights, which starts with a social and then dinner at 6:30 p.m. The program is slated to start at 7:30 p.m.

"We wanted to start the year by hosting a fun event for folks to gather, meet each other, and greet the candidates running this year," said Eli Hunt, chairman of the Cass County DFL Party Unit.

"We are starting the election cycle right away this year, with precinct caucuses on Feb. 2, and county endorsing conventions in February or March," said Steve Nelson, chairman of the Beltrami County DFL Party Unit.

"This is a chance for everyone to get fired up and ready to go for the season ahead," Hunt added.

The event will be emceed by Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez. Also speaking will be Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, and Reps. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, and Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids.

Music will be provided by Shannon Northbird and Country Jim.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For more information contact: EIi Hunt, 218-760-2116 or Steve Nelson 218-444-8789, or go to the Web site