Battle for DFL Senate 4 endorsement remains close after precinct caucuses
The battle for DFL endorsement in the state Senate 4 race remains close after a toes-in-the-water test at Tuesday's precinct caucuses. While neither Irene Folstrom nor Mary Olson captured a majority of votes in a straw poll among caucus attendees...
The battle for DFL endorsement in the state Senate 4 race remains close after a toes-in-the-water test at Tuesday's precinct caucuses.
While neither Irene Folstrom nor Mary Olson captured a majority of votes in a straw poll among caucus attendees, Folstrom took a 5-percentage-point lead over Olson.
In a snow-slogged night that drove precinct caucus attendance down to its lowest levels in years -- many rural sites had no participants for either the DFL or Republican parties -- spirits of those who did turn out did not dampen.
Folstrom took 46 percent of those attending who voted in the non-binding straw poll, while Olson had 41 percent. Thirteen percent said they were undecided in the endorsement race between the two Bemidji women who seek to unseat first-term incumbent Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point.
"Our candidates for endorsement did a good job getting their supporters out given the bad weather," said Senate District 4 DFL Chairwoman Martha Johnson of Backus. "Only the really dedicated were out driving to meetings on Tuesday night. We can see we will have a close contest for endorsement between two strong candidates for the Senate at our convention on April 8."
While all DFL precinct caucus goers could vote in the straw poll, it will be a proportioned number of delegates elected at the caucuses who will go on to county conventions and to the April 8 Senate 4 endorsing convention at Walker.
Folstrom, a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe member, has a law degree from Cornell Law School and worked for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C. Olson, a University of North Dakota School of Law graduate, is a former assistant Crow Wing County attorney and has held private practice in Brainerd and Bemidji.
The Senate district includes all of Cass County, the southeast portion of Beltrami County including Bemidji, east half of Hubbard County, and parts of Crow Wing and Itasca counties.
Also on April 8, endorsing conventions will be held for House 4A and 4B. Incumbent 4A Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, faces no endorsement opposition while in 4B, Ron Berry of Walker and Doug Cadwell of Pine River will square off. A straw poll wasn't held in those races Tuesday night.
"Now that delegates have been elected to go to the endorsing convention, those delegates can expect lots of personal attention from the candidates in both the Senate and the House 4B endorsement contests, Johnson said. "I think there will be very few undecided delegates in either race by April 8."
It will be at that time that district delegates will decide who is the most electable and issue a formal nod to face Ruud.
Caucus goers, however, also cast straw poll ballots in a number of statewide races, which also won't be determined until the June 9-11 DFL State Convention in Rochester.
While regional results were unavailable Tuesday, statewide straw votes, with 85.9 percent of precincts reporting, showed Attorney General Mike Hatch leading endorsement candidates in the governor's race with 38.6 percent.
Far back and nearly tied were Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, with 22.6 percent and Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins. Real estate developer Kelly Doran, who has made no qualms about joining battle directly in the Sept. 12 primary, had 6.4 percent.
But nearly 10 percent said they were undecided.
In the U.S. Senate race, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar polled 77.2 percent while veterinarian Ford Bell captured 15.6 percent.
In the secretary of state's office, Mark Ritchie polled 37.9 percent while Christian Sande took 15.9 percent, and in the state auditor's straw poll, it was Rebecca Otto, a former legislator, with 46.3 percent and Reggie Edwards with 12.4 percent. Both races also saw high numbers of undecideds, more than 40 percent.