ROCHESTER, Minn. — In contrast to the fiery showdown at the Republican convention last week, state Democrats endorsed a familiar slate of incumbent candidates this weekend.
But delegates attending the convention on Saturday argued that observers shouldn’t mistake a lack of drama as a lack of dedication to bringing people to the polls in November.
“I think there’s a lot of optimism,” said Matthew Loewen of South St. Paul, who was serving as a delegate for the first time. He added: “We have a vision of the future rather than just reacting against everything else.”
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin echoed that outlook, while also noting the challenges of a midterm election.
“There’s certainly no doubt that there’s some national headwinds blowing against Democrats around the country, but what I’m buoyed by here is the strength of our candidates. Our incumbents have a great record of success,” Martin told KARE 11’s Karla Hult.
Among the incumbents receiving the DFL endorsement this weekend: Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan; State Attorney General Keith Ellison and State Auditor Julie Blaha. Secretary of State Steve Simon also accepted his party’s endorsement in an emotional speech that also seemed to respond to a controversial video played at the Republican convention last weekend.
“The year before he left for America, Jews in the Russian Empire lost the right to vote. And then things got… things got much worse,” Simon said about his great-grandfather’s escape from Lithuania shortly before the Holocaust.
Last weekend, the Republican-endorsed candidate challenging Simon, Kim Crockett, aired a video that some argued was anti-Semitic. GOP party chair David Hann later apologized, saying the campaign video “should not have happened.” When asked whether his emotions during his speech related to the controversy, Simon said voting rights resonate with him and his family history.
“When I show emotion about these things it’s ‘cause the right to vote, the freedom to vote is really integral to who I am and my family history and why people in my family fled to this country he said, adding, “People do understand that our election system is fundamentally fair and accurate, honest and secure.”
The DFL convention concludes on Sunday. For KARE 11’s coverage of the Republican convention, click here.
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