Kelliher holds off Rybak for DFLs endorsement

A long day ended with the mayor-turned-gubernatorial hopeful conceding to the popular Southwest representative

It took more than 12 hours, but the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has its endorsed gubernatorial candidate: Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Despite buzz that R.T. Rybak and Kelliher were neck and neck going into the April 25 endorsing battle, the veteran state official turned out to be too strong for Minneapolis’ mayor.

Kelliher arrived with the backing of figures such as Walter Mondale, Rybak with the backing of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Kelliher had a strong base of superdelegates, Rybak a growing number of non-superdelegates.

Come endorsement time, though, Rybak never pulled within 3 percent of Kelliher. During all five balloting rounds, Kelliher was No. 1 while Rybak was a consistent No. 2.

As a sixth round of ballots were being counted, the mayor withdrew.

“The stakes right now are too great for us to delay and divide any longer,” Rybak said.

Accepting the endorsement, Kelliher thanked Rybak for being a “class act.”

“It’s always hard to run against a good friend,” she said.

Up next? Another DFL battle.

Kelliher now moves on to the primary, but so do two fellow party members who chose to forego the endorsement process, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza. (A third challenger, Susan Gaertner, dropped out two days after the convention.)

Dayton and Entenza both will bring significant name recognition to the table, Dayton as a former U.S. senator, Entenza as a former state representative and attorney general candidate.

The primary is Aug. 10.

The state’s other parties still had their endorsing to do when this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press. The Republican Party’s state convention was scheduled for April 29 to May 1, while the Independence Party’s convention is May 8.

The election is Nov. 2.

Convention jottings

— Despite announced plans to skip the convention and head straight to the Aug. 10 primary, candidate Mark Dayton received a nomination for endorsement.
A Dayton representative promptly pulled his name.

— Candidate Matt Entenza, like Dayton, also was expected to skip the convention. Yet he ended up both nominated for endorsement and speaking to delegates. One of the last lines of his speech: “See you in the primary.” He subsequently withdrew from the contest.

— One of the main turning points in the convention came while fourth-round ballots were being counted and Tom Rukavina dropped out to endorse Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “I was the best progressive in this race, no damn doubt about it,” Rukavina said. “Now I want you to vote for the second best progressive in this race.”

— Kelliher is the first woman to receive the DFL’s endorsement for governor. If she wins in November, she would be the state’s first female governor.

— There was a definite Southwest Minneapolis vibe to the convention’s proceedings. All three of the last candidates standing live in these parts: Kelliher in Bryn Mawr, Rybak in East Harriet and Paul Thissen in Lynnhurst.

— Perennial candidate Ole Savior appeared at the convention wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey and said he would have liked to have had the team’s cheerleaders appear on stage with him. They didn’t. Savior was knocked out of the endorsing contest after receiving 0 percent of votes in the first round