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Phifer tops delegate haul at Sixth District convention

In gubernatorial race, Walz narrowly edges Otto, with most delegates uncommitted

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 3/21/18

REGIONAL— Grassroots enthusiasm for DFL Eighth District congressional candidate Leah Phifer continues to play out at county and state senate district conventions around the region.

Phifer, …

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Phifer tops delegate haul at Sixth District convention

In gubernatorial race, Walz narrowly edges Otto, with most delegates uncommitted

Posted

REGIONAL— Grassroots enthusiasm for DFL Eighth District congressional candidate Leah Phifer continues to play out at county and state senate district conventions around the region.

Phifer, whose strong endorsement challenge of Congressman Rick Nolan, was at least one factor in his decision to bow out of a re-election bid, picked up nine more committed delegates from the Sixth Senate District convention held last Saturday in Hibbing.

Rep. Jason Metsa, whose district encompasses the Iron Range portion of the Sixth District, picked up five delegates, with six delegates listed as uncommitted. The convention elected a total of 20 delegates and as many alternates, who will advance to the state convention in June as well as the April 14 endorsing convention for the Eighth District congressional race.

Former state Rep. Joe Radinovich, North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy, and former KBJR news anchor Michelle Lee also attended the convention. All participated in a candidates’ forum just prior to the selection of state convention delegates.

Field organizers for Phifer’s campaign worked the convention throughout the day on Saturday. They had expected to face an uphill fight for delegates in Metsa’s backyard but found plenty of enthusiasm among the just over two hundred delegates who had assembled for the convention.

Phifer’s success in the Sixth came in the wake of the March 10 Third Senate District convention in Ely, where Phifer won nine of the 14 delegates elected there. Phifer also won the bulk of delegates in a Koochiching County convention held last Saturday and claimed five delegates in a convention held in North Branch over the weekend according to political commentator Aaron Brown. The North Branch mayor, by contrast, won just one delegate at that gathering. Eight other delegates were advanced as uncommitted.

Phifer also picked up some significant endorsements this past week, including the support of longtime former legislator and gubernatorial candidate Becky Lourey, of Kerrick. She also won the endorsement of Our Revolution-Duluth and Our Revolution-Minnesota, two organizations created as offshoots of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

It appears almost certain that Phifer will arrive at the April 14 endorsing convention with a solid lead in delegates, but it remains unclear whether she’ll reach the 60-percent threshold for endorsement, at least in the early rounds. Brown, in a recent blog post, speculates that Radinovich could be a contender if he enters the convention in second place and gathers support from other candidates as they’re eliminated in the voting. According to Brown, some DFLers still harbor resentment toward Phifer for her challenge of Nolan.

In any event, the race is almost certainly headed for an August primary, since both Jason Metsa and Michelle Lee have implied that they don’t intend to abide by the endorsement. Phifer, Radinovich, and Hagen Kennedy have indicated they intend to abide by the endorsement, but if the party fails to make an endorsement in April, it’s likely all five candidates will continue on to the primary.

In other convention results, gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz picked up five delegates and Rebecca Otto garnered four. The remaining delegates were uncommitted.

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Kelly Dahl

Interesting; the night before the OU3 convention in Ely, I asked Metsa point blank whether he would honor the endorsement process. He stated "if there is an endorsement; yes I will." If he is in fact taking the opposite position or even considering doing so, he is unfit for public office. Nuancing a policy position is one thing, but answering a question "yes" when you know the answer is "no is quite another.

Thursday, March 22