The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

After five ballots and nine hours, DFLers endorse Murphy

By Ari Ofsevit

For the last several months, Macalester students have invested their time flyering the neighborhood and supporting candidates for the race to succeed Matt Entenza ’83 in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

After nearly nine hours and five ballots at a nominating convention Saturday, Ian Keith conceded to Erin Murphy, who is now the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party’s endorsed candidate for House District 64A in the November election. All the DFL candidates agreed to abide by the party endorsement.

Murphy will face Green Party-endorsed Jesse Mortenson ’05 and Republican Kirstin Beach in November.

“I’m looking forward to a good race,” Murphy said Tuesday. She said she hopes to build on relationships with students at the college campuses in the district in coming months.

While the issues are important in the race, she said, “there is a hunger for a different kind of leadership. [Minnesotans] want legislators to work and solve problems and not to play politics. They are tired of wedge issues.” She thinks that with hard work there is an excellent chance the DFL can retake the house.

The Republicans currently control the house by a slim 68-66 margin.

In this traditionally Democratic district, Murphy said she will “run as if she is 10,000 votes behind.”

The race for the DFL endorsement was hotly contested from the start. One candidate, Sarah Dady, had dropped out the day before the convention, but five candidates were left on the stage at the convention.

The day began with sub-caucusing as delegates divided in to groups, based on either a common interest (such as the “Impeach Bush, Antinuclear and Labor” or the “Young DFL Leaders,” in which many Mac students caucused) or a common supported statewide candidate. By 2 p.m. the groups chose their delegates to the congressional district, county and state conventions. Current Macalester students and recent grads are among those who will go.

The state convention will take place June 9-11 in Rochester.

Interspersed with these proceedings were speeches by candidates vying for various statewide office, including Secretary of State hopefuls Mark Ritchie and Christian Sande, and U.S. Senate candidates Amy Klobuchar and Ford Bell.

The real fun, however, was yet to begin. Each of the 64A candidates was given a few moments to make a final appeal to the delegates, most of whom already knew who they were supporting.

Once the candidates had spoken, the doors were closed and the first vote began. By applause and signage, it was rather apparent that there were three frontrunners: Keith, a teacher, Murphy, a labor leader and nurse, and environmental lobbyist Don Arnosti. In addition, Donna Swanson, a political organizer and staff member for City Councilman Dave Thune, and mortgage banker Jim White were also running.

To remain on the ballot, candidates needed ten percent of the vote for the first ballot. (This cutoff rose to 15 percent for the second and 20 percent for the third). Swanson and White were thus dropped after the first ballot, but the others remained close, and none fell below the threshold.

After vaulting in to first place on the second ballot, the Murphy campaign spoke of “momentum,” although the race between the top three was still as tight as it had been in the first round. Murphy gained some more support after the third ballot while Arnosti lost several delegates.

Before the fourth ballot, Arnosti took the stage, to wild cheers and a standing ovation, and conceded his campaign. In a short speech, Arnosti said that the DFL needs candidates “like [me] to run in Blaine, Stillwater, and Mankato … but I want to live here.” He chose not to endorse one candidate. “I respect my supporters and they will be making up their own minds about who to support,” he said.

The fourth ballot showed him losing more support, with Murphy pulling a bit further ahead of Keith.

The fifth ballot, however, would turn on the support of Arnosti’s backers. With over 100 delegates and a gap between Keith and Murphy of only 17, his supporters could make or break the race for either candidate. Before the count was presented, however, Keith took the stage. While neither he nor Murphy had hit the 60-percent mark, Murphy had made gains and it was becoming clear that Keith would not win.

Had Keith stayed in the race, ballots would have dragged into the night, with the possibility of a stalemate throwing the race into a contested primary, which the candidates considered to be little more than a waste of time and money.

As the tired delegates sprang to their feet and cheered, Keith applauded his opponents for a “totally clean, positive, issue-based campaign,” and said “we’re going to go forth [and] we’re going to take back that House.”

At 6:15 p.m., a motion was made to unanimously endorse Murphy—circumventing the 60 percent rule—and Murphy took to the podium to give a victory speech.

She too praised the candidates and the delegates, and said that the DFL had a lot of work to do to take back the House.

“I’m honored for this endorsement,” she said, “and I will not let you down, I promise.”

For the first time in twelve years, several hundred Saint Paulites participated in the political process, and after a long day formed a democratic consensus.

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