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Early DFL convention gives Swift County a New Hampshire feel

BENSON -- Swift County had a New Hampshire-like feel about it on Saturday night, when the DFL party reaped the benefits of being one of the first to hold its county convention.

Six gubernatorial candidates looking for the DFL endorsement attended the Swift County DFL convention for the chance to woo delegates and garner support for their campaigns.

Gubernatorial candidates R.T. Rybak, Tom Rukavina, Tom Bakk, John Marty, Matt Entenza, and Paul Thissen made the trek on snow-slickened roads to the Law Enforcement Center in Benson for the evening event. Supporters of Margaret Anderson Kelliher were there to represent her as well, according to Jim Falk, chair of the DFL party in Swift County.

The DFL party's county convention in Swift County rarely attracts gubernatorial candidates, much less a slate with prominent names and early front-runners, he noted.

Falk said that 15 of the 29 delegates selected at the precinct caucuses earlier in the week were able to attend the convention. The county convention also attracted a few citizens interested in the candidates, along with area DFL legislators including Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and representatives Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, and Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar.

Falk said all of the party's county conventions are being held earlier this year to meet an earlier date for the state convention. Swift County decided it would move its county convention ahead of the pack.

"We have a very, very good slate of candidates,'' said Falk of the gubernatorial hopefuls. "This is what is making it so hard for people to decide,'' he said.

Falk added that all of the candidates at the county event emphasized that they would unite behind a single candidate when the party makes its endorsement next summer.

The county will send three delegates to the state convention. Two are going as uncommitted delegates and the third is caucusing with Paul Thissen.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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