Franken takes two-thirds of Beltrami DFL delegates

Benefiting from a well-organized floor campaign, Al Franken captured two-thirds of Beltrami County's Democrat delegates Sunday in his bid to win party endorsement in pursuit of Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's seat.

Benefiting from a well-organized floor campaign, Al Franken captured two-thirds of Beltrami County's Democrat delegates Sunday in his bid to win party endorsement in pursuit of Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's seat.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, University of St. Thomas professor of peace and justice studies, gave an impassioned speech earlier Sunday afternoon in his effort to woo Beltrami County DFLers to his side in the U.S. Senate race, drawing applause several times, but it was Franken's floor strategy during the evening's complex and convoluted delegate selection process that won out.

Of the nine delegates elected to attend congressional district and state DFL conventions - the latter where party endorsement for Senate will be given - satirist and former liberal radio talk show host Franken captured six and Nelson-Pallmeyer three.

"Both candidates of done a great job of getting their message across, and of course we're very pleased with the results," Frannie Franken, Al Franken's wife, said in an interview after the delegate selection dust settled. She also spoke earlier to delegates as a surrogate for her husband. "We're very grateful for the results because we need the endorsement of people, because it's a grass-roots, people-powered campaign. But we take nothing for granted and we'll be working as hard as we can."

Democrats used a little-practiced procedure in Beltrami County to pick seven of the nine delegates called a walking sub-caucus, where convention delegates declare a candidate and an issue or issues and then actively pursue others to join their cause on the convention floor by literally walking around to button-hole them. Those sub-caucuses that don't gather enough delegates to proportionately have at least one of the county's state delegate selections are considered non-viable and must caucus with another group when another walking sub-caucus round is called.


The seven state delegates came from the 7th Congressional District part of Beltrami County, the largest part, while two delegates were elected by traditional balloting from the county's 8th Congressional District section - too few to permit proportional voting through the walking sub-caucus process. Both those delegates declared for Franken, while four of the seven 7th District delegates came from Franken sub-caucuses for "green economy" and "multi-issues." Nelson-Pallmeyer's delegates came with one from a single-payer universal health care sub-caucus and two from a "multi-issues" sub-caucus.

A group of staffers - some of them voting Beltrami DFL delegates - wearing dark blue "Team Franken" T-shirts worked the convention floor deftly, growing delegate support into two sub-caucuses that yielded four delegates. Nelson-Pallmeyer had staff too, but most were non-delegates and were frozen from the convention floor during the walking sub-caucuses.

Nelson-Pallmeyer's stock has risen in recent weeks, to the point of moving into second place among major DFLers seeking to oust Coleman, over Twin Cities attorney Mike Ciresi. As a result, Ciresi pulled out of the race last week. Franken has amassed millions of dollars for his war chest while Nelson-Pallmeyer had raised only about $300,000 as of his last report. Yet Nelson-Pallmeyer's positions on ending U.S. involvement in Iraq and embracing global warming as a major issue are seen as most attractive to liberal DFL activists who will issue an endorsement.

"Al will continue to be who he is," Frannie Franken said. "He will tell you what he believes in. ... We're looking forward, concentrating on Norm Coleman and holding him accountable to his record."

Nelson-Pallmeyer, who spent the day at the convention in Bemidji State's Beaux Arts Ballroom until the delegate picture became clear, likened his campaign to that of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in 2002 a week before the election that Coleman then won.

"I met with Paul Wellstone before he took his courageous vote against the Iraq War, when he said no to that war," he told delegates, adding that he served on a foreign policy advisory committee to Wellstone. "This is the worst administration in U.S. history and Norm Coleman has got to go." Instead of fighting wars for oil, he said the nation needs a renewable energy economy that includes Minnesota in wind power generation and solar panel manufacturing.

Frannie Franken told delegates that her husband wants U.S. troops out of Iraq "immediately" but that it has to be done "with more thought in getting out that we did in getting in" and with a plan for a "safe and responsible withdrawal." She refuted Nelson-Pallmeyer's call for a national single-payer universal health care system, saying it would never pass. Al Franken believes in insuring all children but then having the states enact their own universal health care options for adults.

Beltrami County DFL congressional and state delegates:


Two delegates who live in the 8th Congressional District, both committed to Franken, are Lisa Boulay and John McCarthy. Alternates are Steve Newby and Nancy Barcenas.

Seven delegates who live in the 7th Congressional District elected through walking sub-caucuses were:

+ Franken/Green economy - Pam McCrory and Steve Nelson as delegates, Christine Cannon and Richard Skoe as alternates.

+ Franken/Multi-issues - Ashli Vevea and Mike Simpkins as delegates, Pol Sorquist and Rita Albrecht as alternates.

+ Nelson-Pallmeyer/Single-payer universal health care - Linnea Papke-Larson as delegate and Nick Hudson as alternate.

+ Nelson-Pallmeyer/Multi-issues - Michael Meuers and Sherry Kloha as delegates, Dann Siems and Mary Eaton as alternates.

Read a full report of the Beltrami County DFL Convention in Tuesday's edition of the Bemidji Pioneer.

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