by Ed Felien
Long-time political activist and progressive Lauren Maker asked Jon Gorder why he was running for Marty Sabo’s seat in Congress. Gorder is said to have answered, “When this seat was open last time I was 6 years old. The next time it’ll be open, I’ll be 70. I thought I ought to take a shot at it.” He’s not the only one.
Since Sabo announced, nearly a dozen candidates have stepped forward. One political wag said it looked like a circular firing squad. A couple of candidates have been shot down already. Mark Andrew and Rebecca Yannisch decided they wanted to spend more time with their families.
was the first in the race. He was running against Sabo before Sabo decided on
retirement. A professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St.
Thomas, he has been a familiar speaker at anti-war demonstrations. He was running
against Marty because, although Sabo voted against getting into the Iraq war,
he has consistently voted to fund the war and has not communicated a clear vision
about how the Administration has lied to us about the reasons for the war.
Mike Erlandson has
to be considered the inside favorite. He was Sabo’s aide and state DFL
chair for years. Jim Oberstar, the longest-serving member of the Minnesota congressional
delegation, was the former aide to Congressman John Blatnik of the 8th Congressional
District, so the succession is a natural one. Marty’s daughter and former
state senator, Julie Sabo, supports him, and it has to be assumed most party
officers and elected officials will fall in line.
Although there is not a direct comparison, it is useful to look at the 5th Congressional
District race through the experience of the endorsement process in the 62nd
State Senate District Convention held in Minneapolis this past weekend.
Alex Eaton was challenging
Wes Skoglund before Skoglund decided to retire. Eaton was co-chair of Peace
in the Precincts, and he was a strong supporter of single payer health care.
He was progressive on all the issues and had to be considered the front runner
once Wes dropped out. When 11th Ward City Council Member Scott
Benson announced, he was able to get the support of DFL regulars and party
operatives like Tony Scallon, Lee Greenfield, staff people from R.T.’s
office, Lisa Goodman and Rod Krueger of the Library Board. Then, it looked like
he was the front runner. At one point retiring State Senator Wes Skoglund even
worked the floor for him.
was shaping up as the familiar battle between the flakes and the hacks, a battle
the flakes almost always lose. More candidates joined the race: Matt
Gladue, a labor and peace activist currently working for Catholic Charities’
Office for Social Justice; Patricia
Torres Ray, an activist on behalf of children who resigned from her position
with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to run for the seat; Earl
Netwal, former member of the Minneapolis City Council and former chair of
the 62nd District; and three others.
The convention rules were shaped to encourage endorsement. Any candidate with
less than 10 percent was dropped after the first ballot. After the second ballot
the candidate receiving the least number of votes would be dropped until only
two candidates remained. Sixty percent was needed for endorsement.
It would have seemed with so many candidates that an endorsement would’ve
been difficult, but delegates to this convention wanted an endorsement and events
Results of the first ballot were shocking! Patricia Ray jumped out in front
with 25.6 percent; Alex Eaton came in second with 20.1 percent; Matt Gladue
got 18 percent; and Scott Benson got only 16.3 percent. Earl Netwal and three
other candidates were eliminated. Earl missed by a whisker. He got 9.3 percent.
On the second ballot Patricia Torres Ray picked up 59 votes and had 31.8 percent.
Matt Gladue picked up 41 votes and had 22.4 percent. Scott Benson picked up
49 votes for 21.7 percent. Alex Eaton only picked up 4 votes to stay at 20 percent,
and he was dropped. In his concession speech he urged his supporters to vote
On the third ballot Ray picked up 108 votes and had 46.8 percent. Gladue picked
up 40 votes for 28.4 percent. Benson only picked up 29 votes for 24.6 percent
and he was dropped.
On the fourth ballot Ray had 58.2 percent and Gladue had 41.4 percent. Gladue
withdrew and moved for a unanimous ballot for Ray, and Patricia Torres Ray became
the first Latina endorsed for a major political office in Minneapolis.
The rules for endorsement at the 5th Congressional District will probably be
similar. The DFL wants endorsements this year. They are hungry to take back
the state House and the governor’s office, and they don’t want to
lose Mark Dayton’s Senate seat. They don’t want a messy primary
that eats up money and energy and leaves the party divided after September.
At this point it seems that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is the leader. Alex Eaton,
when he set out to challenge the incumbent, seemed to have peaked early and,
once Skoglund retired, he couldn’t keep up the momentum. That doesn’t
seem to be Nelson-Pallmeyer’s problem. His speech at the 62nd District
Convention was electrifying. It brought the wildest response of any speech of
the day, and he ended up with six delegates, twice as many as his nearest rival.
candidates will have pockets of support. Keith
Ellison will run strong in the black areas of North and South Minneapolis.
He has strong progressive credentials and his speeches at peace rallies and
work in civil rights should win him supporters across the district.
represents a good percentage of the district as Hennepin County Commissioner.
She has a history as a progressive, and she was mayor of St. Louis Park. The
endorsing convention will be held at St. Louis Park High School on Sat., May
6, so her oldest friends should be able to find the hall.
Mike Erlandson doesn’t seem to have caught fire and at this point seems
a mild version of Scott Benson.
The oldest rule in politics is that all you have to do is know how to count.
The first candidate who can count to 120 delegates will probably have the endorsement.
There’s no one there yet. Stay tuned! Stay loose! ||
What WE DEMAND
from Our Next Congressperson
by David Tilsen
by Nancy Sartor
WE DEMAND from Our Next Congressperson
Upcoming Election of a 5th District Congressperson
by Polly Mann