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DFLers come out strong at district convention

FARIBAULT — A Minnesota DFL convention wouldn't be authentic without delegates, candidates and incumbents quoting the likes of John F. Kennedy, Paul Wellstone and Garrison Keillor. Saturday's DFL convention for Minnesota's First Congressional District managed to pay homage to all three, while still touting the hard-won successes of DFLers in southern Minnesotan.

Democrats from all facets of government flocked to Faribault Middle School on Saturday to energize the party base and discuss pressing political issues, while delegates elected by local caucuses determined the platforms that will be sent on to the statewide congressional convention.

In attendance were Gov. Mark Dayton's lieutenant governor candidate Tina Smith, cabinet-level incumbents such as State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Attorney General Lori Swanson, as well as U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and Sen. Al Franken.

"This is the incubator of national politics," Walz said of the convention atmosphere. "We have all walks of life here in this room. This is the way it's supposed to be, people choosing the issues and candidates for themselves. It invigorates me."

Many of the issues at the heart of discussion centered on the "L" of DFL — labor. Walz stated that investments in clean energy and education — not cuts — are the best way to bring back jobs to the U.S. and Minnesota. Franken pointed to the importance of funding institutions like South Central College to "increase workforce training and fill the skills gap in the job market."


At the state level, Tina Smith hailed the passage of the minimum wage increase, a budget that paid back loans from the school district and pushed the need to continue on the same path.

Smith, who has been Dayton's chief of staff for more than three years, pointed to the governor's ability to "stop a lot of bad things from happening" and vetoing bills that limited funding and ability of abortions, cut education and human services funding and more over the three years he has been in office.

Despite the differences between Democrats and Republicans, Walz and his colleagues emphasized their abilities to cooperate with the other side and the need to cut down the rising partisanship in politics. Upholding a republic is never easy, Walz said, but "it's designed to protect minorities, designed to force compromise so that we may have equality of opportunity and fairness."

"We all do better when we all do better," Smith said, quoting Wellstone.

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