DFL to hold Beltrami County convention
Democrats in Beltrami County gather in Bemidji on Sunday to elect delegates -- paying attention to presidential and U.S. Senate preferences. The Beltrami County DFL Convention is the next step after last month's precinct caucuses in which delegat...
Democrats in Beltrami County gather in Bemidji on Sunday to elect delegates -- paying attention to presidential and U.S. Senate preferences.
The Beltrami County DFL Convention is the next step after last month's precinct caucuses in which delegates were elected to the county meeting.
Sunday's convention begins at 1 p.m. in Bemidji State University's Beaux Arts Ballroom, according to the Minnesota DFL Party Web site. It's the only county unit convention that day, with 24 county or endorsing conventions slated today.
A precinct caucus ballot set percentages for the presidential race, but debate Sunday will focus on the U.S. Senate race with two remaining major contenders after Twin Cities attorney Mike Ciresi ended his campaign early this week.
Satirist and former "Saturday Night Live" actor-turned-liberal-radio talk show host Al Franken is seen as the frontrunner, but University of St. Thomas Professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, once a long shot, had moved ahead of Ciresi in delegate counts before Ciresi pulled out of the race.
Franken has been in Bemidji several times and his northern Minnesota coordinator, Pam McCrory, is a former Beltrami County DFL chairwoman. Nelson-Pallmeyer has also worked the county, with some of his staff holding a meeting last Sunday in Bemidji to work on a delegate selection strategy.
Nelson-Pallmeyer, who teaches justice and peace studies, has as his chief issue to withdraw American troops from Iraq in six months and end the war there, turning over security there to the international community and Iraq's Arab neighbors. His appeal would generally be to the most liberal wing of the DFL Party.
Franken has out-raised his opponents -- both in the DFL and the man he wants to unseat, U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. -- will millions of dollars, much of it from friends in the entertainment field. But he also notes that he has small contributions from more than 15,000 Minnesotans and from all 87 counties.
His name recognition is high, but so are his negatives as the Coleman campaign would have fodder for debate from years of Franken's public record as a satirist and from his books, such as "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot."
With Beltrami County the only convention on Sunday, it is possible that both Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer may make personal appearances to woo delegates.
The Beltrami County DFL will elect nine delegates to attend the State DFL Convention, June 5-8 at Rochester. As the county, however, is split between two congressional districts, two of those delegates must be selected from the 8th Congressional District part of Beltrami County and seven from the 7th Congressional District part.
It was that split of delegates that caused Beltrami County problems in 2006, as a delegate challenged the ruling of the convention chairman to vote on delegates as a county unit, rather than splitting the county into two conventions by congressional district. The State DFL Central Committee upheld the complaint, but credentials committees at the district and state levels still admitted the Beltrami County delegates which had been elected.
The 8th Congressional DFL Convention is slated for May 3 in Duluth and the 7th District for May 17 at Alexandria.
In the presidential nomination race, Minnesota Democrats will send 66 percent of its delegates in support of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 33 percent for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, based on the precinct caucuses poll results.
Beltrami County, which saw record numbers of Democrats turn out for precinct caucuses, gave Obama 61.5 percent and Clinton 36.6 percent.
Delegates will also elect officers and debate resolutions on issues submitted from the precinct caucuses, honing them for the district and state conventions.
After a succession of county chairs, Roy Nelson of Ponemah was elevated to Beltrami County DFL chairman in August from his post as associate chairman when McCrory resigned to join the Franken campaign.
Also expected to address the convention are local Democrats who face re-election this fall -- Assistant House Majority Leader Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, who represents House 4A, and Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, who represents House 2B.
Remarks may also be expected from Sens. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, of Senate 2 and Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, of Senate 4, who don't face re-election until 2010.