DFL unites behind Dayton, Franken, focuses on turning out the vote in November

Gov. Mark Dayton  and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith
Gov. Mark Dayton and his running mate Tina Smith accept the endorsement at the 2014 DFL state convention Sat., May 31, 2014 in Duluth.
Paul M. Walsh/For MPR News

With no serious primary challengers emerging in either the U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race, Democrats are focused on November and ways to get their supporters energized and engaged.

Related: At the Republican state convention, political purity takes a back seat

As expected, Democrats endorsed Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken for re-election at their state convention in Duluth Saturday.

Speaker after speaker at the convention warned of dire consequences if Democrats stay home in November because presidential politics are not in play.

Rep. Keith Ellison even brought charts to make the case that Minnesota Democrats often have problems in mid-term elections.

"You can see that in 2010, our vote total went way down," Ellison said. "This is a midterm election year and our folks, some of them ... they don't always show up during that midterm election year."

Franken and Klobuchar
Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar after Minnesota Democrats Saturday endorsed him for a second term at the state convention in Duluth on Saturday, May 31, 2014.
Paul M. Walsh/For MPR News

After winning by just 312 votes in the recount following the 2008 election, Franken told delegates his re-election hinges on DFL turnout.

"It's not my hard work that's going to decide this election," Franken said. "It's yours."

Franken and other Democratic leaders say they believe their message that the DFL is on the side of the middle class is an easy sell. It's closing the deal that they're worried about.

Gov. Dayton's 2010 margin of victory was wider than Franken's 2008 nail biter, but still close enough to draw the threat of a recount.

Republicans took over both chambers of the Legislature the same year and former 8th District DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar was defeated for the first time in three-and-a-half decades.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin has been been talking about the risk of low DFL turnout for months.

"If we don't get out and vote, that's just as good as voting Republican," Martin said.

Bob Boyd of Burnsville
On the convention floor delegate Bob Boyd of Burnsville predicted DFL officials will be surprised come November how engaged the rank and file remains. "I personally will be door knocking, making phone calls and talking to my neighbors more one-on-one."
Mark Zdechlik/MPR News

On the convention floor delegate Bob Boyd of Burnsville predicted DFL officials will be surprised come November how engaged the rank and file remains.

"I personally will be door knocking, making phone calls and talking to my neighbors more one-on-one," he said.

Boyd said Democrats are keenly aware of DFL accomplishments and will work hard to keep the DFL in power.

"I do get a sense the people are pumped up everywhere in my delegation when I talk to other folks I see the energy and the commitment," he said. "They know what happens when you forget and we haven't forgotten."

Democrats hope their message of a healthy state budget, a higher minimum wage, more spending for schools and an improving state and national economy will be a winner.

Republicans will argue that DFL control has brought higher taxes, more government spending and an economy growing more slowly than it would have if they had been in charge.

Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats are united behind their candidates for the two biggest statewide offices going into November. The next five months will show whether that's enough.

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