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Rukavina only DFLer to take Beltrami County delegates

Rep. Tom Rukavina, right, DFL-Virginia,encourages his subcaucus delegates during Sunday's Beltrami County DFL Convention at Bemidji State University. Holding a sign is Arlin Melgaard. Pioneer Photo by Brad Swenson

Iron Ranger Tom Rukavina captured three delegates Sunday in his bid for governor as the Beltrami County DFL held its convention at Bemidji State University.

The real winner, however, is the unknown as Beltrami County DFLers elected six uncommitted delegates, freezing out any other DFL candidate. Rukavina was the only candidate to have dedicated delegates.

Rukavina, the DFL state representative from Virginia, spoke to the convention and stayed to the end, giving those subcaucusing for him endorsement and support.

Also staying to the end was Karen Thissen, wife of gubernatorial candidate Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who also spoke to delegates. She protested a decision from Beltrami County DFL Chairman Steve Nelson that changed the number of delegates to make a viable subcaucus, and some observers hinted that the Thissen campaign may appeal Sunday's delegate selection to the State DFL Party.

Delegate Skip Finn won early approval to amend the convention rules to mandate that proportional voting be used to select delegates, creating a walking subcaucus system to elicit candidate support and to ensure minority representation.

There was a debate over when the convention floor was frozen and a delegate count taken to compute the viable number a subcaucus needed to continue. A Thissen-health care subcaucus had eight delegates which at first was ruled viable for a state delegate, but then that number moved to nine, dissolving the Thissen subcaucus.

"We had nine delegates but were told all we needed was eight, so I let one go," said Karen Thissen, saying that delegated helped bring another subcaucus to eight delegates.

That action was held for 7th Congressional District state delegate selection. Delegate selection in the 8th District part of Beltrami County went smoother.

Beltrami County 8th District delegates elected Pam McCrory as an uncommitted delegate and Joe Gould as leaning for Rukavina.

In the end, 7th District delegates were Kathryn "Jody" Beaulieu, Nicole Beaulieu and Greg Paquin as uncommitted-diversity at the state convention delegates; Arlys Stillday and Gary Fuller as uncommitted-health care delegates; and, Steve Nelson and Rita Albrecht as Rukavina delegates.

Convention delegates heard from Rukavina, former state House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, Sen. Tom Bakk and several surrogates, including Ms. Thissen and Lorraine Rybak Nelson, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's mother.

Full Beltrami County DFL Convention coverage will be in Tuesday's edition of the Bemidji Pioneer.