Conventions, session clashThe decision to move primary elections up a month had the unintended consequence of pushing party nominating conventions forward as well.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
The decision to move primary elections up a month had the unintended consequence of pushing party nominating conventions forward as well.
That means last weekend’s DFL convention in Duluth and the Republican version this weekend in Rochester land during the legislative session for the first time, which some lawmakers say has slowed progress on budget balancing, education reform and other big issues.
“I think there is a real sense that we have to get through the (conventions) before anything real controversial comes up,” said Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar. “I think there is some nervousness on all the governor candidates in here when they are pushing their (voting) buttons. Which group are you appeasing and which ones are you displeasing certainly becomes an issue with some of these votes.”
Juhnke’s views are not universal. But many of his colleagues agree and the feelings stretch across party lines.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said he thinks holding the convention during the session has had a more chilling effect on passing potentially controversial budget cuts than waiting to find out the status of $408 million in federal funding both parties are counting on for help balancing the deficit.
“There is no popular way to solve a $1 billion deficit,” he said, adding that he is not singling out Democrats who hold majorities in both the House and Senate. “If Republicans were in charge we’d have the same types of problems.”
Garofalo thinks in future years the state needs to move the conventions back to late May or June to avoid this year’s perfect storm: several legislators running for governor, mid-session conventions and a huge budget deficit.
“We can’t have the political conventions during the legislative session,” he said. “Both parties are catering to their state convention delegates.”
In the House, Reps. Tom Emmer of Delano and Marty Seifert of Marshall are the leading governor candidates heading into this week’s Republican state convention. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis won the Democratic governor endorsement late Saturday, with fellow DFLers Tom Rukavina and Paul Thissen finishing in the top four.
In the Senate, John Marty of Roseville lost the DFL endorsement, and Sens. David Hann of Eden Prairie and Michael Jungbauer of East Bethel earlier dropped out of the GOP race. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was second to Anderson Kelliher Saturday night in Duluth.