DFL-ers out strong at First District convention

Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., introduces Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn., at the First Congressional District's DFL Convention on Saturday at the Faribault Middle School. (Cristeta Boarini/Daily News).

Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., introduces Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn., at the First Congressional District’s DFL Convention on Saturday at the Faribault Middle School. (Cristeta Boarini/Daily News).

By Cristeta Boarini

Faribault Daily News

A Minnesota DFL convention wouldn’t be authentic without delegates, candidates and incumbents quoting the likes of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. 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 DFL southern Minnesotans.

DFL politicians from all different roles of Minnesota 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.

2014 marks the first year the DFL First Congressional District Convention has been held in Faribault. As of 2012’s redistricting, Rice and Le Sueur counties are the newest additions to the First Congressional District, a seat currently held by Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato.

In attendance were local state representatives like Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, and Sen. Vicki Jensen, and Gov. Mark Dayton’s lieutenent governor candidate Tina Smith, cabinet-level incumbents such as State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Attorney Genereal Lori Swanson, as well as federal representatives 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 at the convention centered on the “L” of DFL — labor. Walz said investments in clean energy solutions and education — not cuts — are the best way to bring back jobs to the U.S. and Minnesota, while 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, Fritz, Jensen and Smith all 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 over 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 the DFL and the GOP, 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 minorites, 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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