DFL Senate candidates take first step in nomination process

Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer
U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken (left) finished his speech and watched his DFL opponent Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer (right) take the stage.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

Al Franken grew up in St. Louis Park, and it's there at the high school where he spent much of his Super Tuesday evening, first greeting throngs of DFL activists who flooded the 17 caucuses taking place at the school.

Many of the DFLers at the caucuses wore Barack Obama buttons. Franken and his staffers were at the ready with what seemed like an unending roll of Franken campaign stickers. Many caucus- goers gladly accepted them.

Al Franken
U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken listens to an exchange between his DFL opponent Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer (left) and Franken's wife Franni. The discussion was about the color of Nelson-Pallmeyer's tie. The two candidates appeared at the DFL Caucus Night Party.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

Squeezing his way through lines of DFLers flowing out of classrooms where individual precinct caucuses were taking place, Franken made his way around the building -- interrupting packed meeting after packed meeting.

He talked a lot about the economy and the struggle of the middle class. He also claimed some credit for the energy evidenced by the record caucus crowds.

"We're making history, and I think the history we're making is about a progressive movement that's finally going to take over this country," Franken said. "And it's something I've been fighting for for years, and I want your support. I've been fighting for it by campaigning for DFLers in this state, campaigning for Democrats all over the country, by writing books and doing a radio show, and now I'm doing it by running for Senate. And I'm going to beat Norm Coleman and I need your help."

Mike Ciresi, who's also seeking the DFL Senate endorsement, campaigned in Minneapolis and in St. Paul. At Ramsey Jr. High in St. Paul, Ciresi also talked about the overwhelming caucus turnout. Ciresi criticized a long list of Bush administration policies, and linked to them Coleman.

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Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer
DFL Senate candidate Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer talks to caucus-goers at Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, Minn.
MPR Photo/Molly Bloom

"A tax policy that is 'no limousine left behind,'" Ciresi said. "An environment that has put the world at peril, when we should be nurturing it and protecting it. We don't have a common sense bill for immigration, in a nation that's been built on immigrants. This is a defining moment, and we have a tremendous opportunity to change the nation. This is our moment and our time, and what it's really time for is it's time to change the Norm in Washington."

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer was also out working Democratic activists at Eden Prairie High School. In between greeting DFLers, Nelson-Pallmeyer said the presidential preference poll was largely overshadowing the Senate endorsement contest.

In his short stump speech, Nelson-Pallmeyer told potential delegates they have an opportunity to change the course of history.

Mike Ciresi
U.S. Senate candidate Mike Ciresi speaks to a caucus group at Ramsey Junior High in St. Paul on Super Tuesday.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

"I think we're here because we know this is the worst administration in history," Nelson-Pallmeyer said. "We have very serious problems and a limited window to resolve them. I call this the most important decade in human history, and we need to mobilize a movement to take this country back. We face some very important choices."

While the presidential preference determines how Minnesota's national delegates will be divided between the presidential candidates, on the Senate level it's impossible to tell who won the most delegates.

In fact, many of the delegates chosen Tuesday night are uncommitted. The Senate candidates will spend the next few months trying to win their votes at Senate district and county conventions, and ultimately at the state convention in June where delegates will decide on a Senate endorsement.