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Minnesotans shine in DNC spotlight

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota politicians, some of them facing re-election campaigns in 2016, took advantage of a national spotlight with speeches Friday during the 2015 Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting.  

During his address, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton jabbed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is running in the Republican presidential race .   

“He wants to get out of that job, now he’s running for president,” Dayton said.

Democrats compared Minnesota’s economic successes to highlight Wisconsin’s -- and namely Walker’s -- purported failures.

Expanding his line of criticism to the entire Republican field,  Dayton said the nation would be led after the election “either by a Donald Trump clone or a true Democrat.”

Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was chosen at random to introduce presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee. Current Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges spoke of the city’s diversity, saying just as Minneapolis was open to people of all backgrounds, so was America.

“This nation is for all of us,” Hodges said. ‘We’re going to prove that next year.”

In introducing U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the popular Minnesota senator was first person she told about her breast cancer diagnosis other than her family.

Klobuchar made Minnesota references a big part of her speech. She quoted Garrison Keillor's famous sign off to “The News From Lake Wobegon” segment on “A Prairie Home Companion”, and plugged the SPAM museum.

Klobuchar also pointed out former Vice President Walter Mondale in the audience, and name-checked Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey, whose legacies are revered among Democrats.

During the policy portion of her talk, Klobuchar touched on immigration, and referenced a 99-year-old Hispanic veteran who was undocumented, and served in the Pacific theater during World War II.

“Are we going to let Donald Trump tell that vet we don’t need him, and he should go away?” Klobuchar said.

In introducing U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, Wasserman Schultz described his 8th Congressional District as “quite vulnerable” to a Republican takeover.

Nolan himself also seemed to tap into fears the district might flip back to Republicans. He made the point that Democratic-led reform always runs the risk of later being eliminated, saying  “there’s never a final score” in politics.  

“There’s always some powerful forces trying to roll it all back,” Nolan said. “They’re having some success.”

Nolan scored points with audience using positions that have framed prior campaign events this season, including opposition to military involvement in the Middle East, fighting against rollback of environmental protection, and insistence on a new transportation bill. Nolan also emulated Bernie Sanders by mentioning income inequality.

“The rich are getting richer, and the greed is unparalleled in human history,” Nolan said.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, from Minnesota’s 5th District, introduced a video on the anniversary of Voting Rights Act and the need to continue civil protections for voters. As congressmen with two-year terms, both Nolan and Ellison are facing re-election in 2016.

Zach Kayser
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