Minnesota Republicans a couple of weeks ago held a spirited, and sometimes raucous, convention to pick their U.S. Senate candidate. Democrats meet in Rochester Saturday in what is expected to be a quiet event.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders expect such a quiet event that they joke they will bring in dancing bears to liven things up.
“There is not a lot of controversy,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said, not a common situation for his party.
The party plans to endorse U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a second six-year term beginning at noon Saturday. That could be the only day with official action, Martin said, although DFL activists will be trained for campaigning on Sunday.
Still, Martin said, the convention is valuable.
“There is a lot of excitement around Sen. Klobuchar,” he said.
“It serves a huge purpose in terms of party building,” he said about the $100,000 convention.
The 1,200 delegates and like number of alternates will hear most Democratic U.S. House members and candidates, but their focus will be on Klobuchar, a senator who does well in public opinion polls.
“This convention is about Sen. Klobuchar,” Martin said.
Her presumed Republican opponent, state Rep. Kurt Bills of Rosemount, won GOP support on the second ballot during the party’s state convention in St. Cloud. The convention was dominated by presidential candidate Ron Paul supporters, libertarians who differ in many ways from traditional Republicans.
Klobuchar said she hasn’t met Bills, although his name is bound to arise in Rochester.
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot of time to talk about the issues, but I’m really still focused on Minnesota,” she said. “That’s what I’ve done from the beginning and what I’ll be talking about this weekend.”
Klobuchar said she believes there is still much work to be done in the Senate.
“I’ve always tried my best to put Minnesota first,” the senator said. “That’s one of the reasons I got on the commerce and agriculture committees. We hadn’t had anyone on commerce for decades, yet we have such a strong business community, big and small, in our state.”
Klobuchar said she believes her record of developing bipartisan working relationships on a variety of issues is important for the state.
“I really am going to be talking about what I’ve done and what I think we need to be doing as a country,” she said. “I think we need to have people who are able and willing and have shown an ability to work across the aisle.”
Courage in Washington needs to be measured by “whether you’re willing to stand next to people you don’t always agree with for the betterment of this country.”
Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune contributed to this story