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Congressional delegation fires up Democrats; many grumble as grub runs out
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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

DULUTH -- Minnesota's Democratic congressional delegation fed red meat to state party convention delegates Saturday, saying just what any good Democrat wants to hear. Especially popular at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center was the recently passed health care law.

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"It should be a basic right of everyone in the country to have basic health care," an unusually impassioned U.S. Rep. Tim Walz told delegates.

He also took a shot at GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty for what he called eight years of "short-term political gain."

One Republican drew more jeers than anyone else throughout the convention, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar tied her to controversial former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Send Michele Palin back to where she belongs," Oberstar encouraged Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken received more applause than others from the delegation. He, too, joined in the governor's race, telling Democrats they should "elect the first Democratic governor since Rudy Perpich."

After going through a list of good things in the federal new health law, Franken proclaimed: "I like my job."

As with most DFL state conventions, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who serves western Minnesota, did not attend.

Food runs out

Democrats assembled at the convention floor were unified among what they wanted: universal health care, equal rights for gay couples and food.

Holiday Inn, which supplied boxed lunches for the delegates, ran out of food several times, leading to the day's loudest grumbles during a convention that stretched on for hours.

The problem, said Holiday Inn General Manager Lisa Augustine, was that they didn't anticipate the demand. During the last convention in Duluth four years ago the Holiday Inn sold just under 840 boxed lunches. But 816 lunches sold on Friday alone, with another 980 sold on Saturday before they were gone.

"We just didn't expect this," she said.

While the Holiday Inn did start bringing in pizza, Augustine said once supplies were gone Saturday night, they would not bring in more,

Some convention goers were bothered that the DECC concession stands weren't open.

But Augustine said the DFL Party requested only food providers that were union organized, that meant the DECC, which is non-union, couldn't provide food. "Our property is union," she said.

No Dayton vote

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton was nominated for governor , but a few minutes later he notified the convention that he did not want to be part of the endorsement contest.Like Entenza and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, Dayton decided to compete in the primary election. He said that he did not feel it was respectful to be on the ballot since he always planned to run in the primary.

Short subject

Rep. Tom Rukavina of Virginia likes to make fun of his lack of height, but long-shot candidate Ole Savior did him one better.

"He could be the best governor we have ever had if he had a stool," Savior quipped.

A train wreck

Perhaps Moorhead City Councilman Mark Olaf Altenburg best summarized DFL feelings about the current Republican-controlled governor's office: "The next governor of Minnesota will inherit a terrible train wreck."

Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report. Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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