5 DFL Candidates Race to Lock Up Delegate Endorsement

August 01, 2018 09:03 AM

The race for the open seat in Minnesota's 5th Congressional district stops at a schoolhouse in South Minneapolis where the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party will gather Sunday to endorse a candidate.

The 5 DFL candidates in the race include Jamal Abdi Abdulahi, Frank Nelson Drake, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Ilhan Omar, and Patricia Torres Ray, after Bobby Joe Champion dropped out Monday.


RELATED: DFL Candidate for 5th District Congressional Seat Suspends Bid

"I fear that an ugly Primary fight could leave an unpleasant residue that will get in the way of the victory we need in November," State Sen. Champion said. "It also concerns me that such a Primary fight will drain our limited financial resources away from the general election effort. Much is at stake and we must work together now."

Normally, the DFL meets to endorse a candidate before the filing date, which was last week. But on filing day, incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison announced he would not run for the seat.

That's why this special endorsement convention is in uncharted territory for the 460 delegates, alternates, and super-delegates that will meet Sunday at Clara Barton Open School.

KSTP 2018 Election Page

"You have to keep in mind that this is the most Democratic district in the state of Minnesota-- therefore, a Democratic endorsement makes a particular difference in a primary like this," Steven Schier, a Carlton College Professor, said. "It's a remarkably frantic time for delegates, candidates, and is very unpredictable."

DFL 5th District Chairman Brandon Schorsch told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Sunday was the only open weekend they could find around other previously scheduled events and ahead of early voting.

"I felt it was far better to go and have the larger body go and make a decision of this magnitude," Schorsch said.

The Chairman said the committee wanted community delegates to have a say in whom to support.

"I think it's important that we get beyond 'do we just endorse somebody,' but the delegates are making the choice. Do they want to endorse somebody, or do they choose not to have an endorsement," Schorsch said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to candidates running for the 5th District DFL race for comment.

"From the dynamics of a campaign, it's a meat grind. I get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, I work to 11:30  [p.m.]  or midnight, calling delegates, raising funds, and hiring staff," candidate Jamal Abdi Abdulahi said.

During those delegate calls, Abdulahi, who is in his first race for political office, said he's heard some frustrations from delegates.

RELATED: Fifth District DFL to Hold Special Endorsing Convention 

"There's a tremendous amount of frustration and grumbling about how quick this convention was scheduled," Abdulahi said.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who has run other campaigns for elected office before, feels there needs to be more time to give voters the opportunity to learn about the candidates.

"I think we should have four debates," Kelliher said. "A broader group to participate in, as to who to send to Congress. That would provide more information to people on who the candidates are."

Frank Drake, who previously ran as Republican, is running this year for the DFL ticket.

"This is perfectly fine [endorsing the convention], I would like the endorsement," Drake said. "But it doesn't matter, I plan to win the primary regardless."

Ilhan Omar is also a candidate for the DFL spot. "There's no question that the circumstances of this race are irregular. Generally, you have a lot more time to put a campaign together," Omar said. "But on Tuesday night, June 5th, right after we filed, we had a phone bank and called hundreds of neighbors. Even with a compressed race like this, I am building a winning coalition that includes all of us and champions Minnesotan values." 

All candidates names will appear on the August 14 DFL primary ballot.


Eric Chaloux

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