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Clinton, Sanders to appear today at St. Paul fundraiser

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger St. Paul Pioneer Press ST. PAUL -- The Democratic presidential race will land in Minnesota on Friday, with both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in town to promote their campaigns. The two remaining Democratic presid...

Sanders and Clinton
Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wave as they arrive on stage before of the start of the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL -- The Democratic presidential race will land in Minnesota on Friday, with both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in town to promote their campaigns.

The two remaining Democratic presidential candidates will attend a 4,000-person, $1 million fundraiser for the Minnesota DFL Party at St. Paul’s RiverCentre. But if you hope to see the man and woman who could be the next president, you are likely out of luck.

“We’ve been sold out of this event since the beginning of January,” DFL Party chair Ken Martin said. The sellout happened in record speed - only a few weeks after the event was announced - for a dinner that will raise a record amount for the Minnesota party.

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Both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns targeted Minnesota in hopes of wresting as many delegates as possible out of the state’s March 1 caucus voting. Sanders, who held Minnesota rallies with nearly 20,000 supporters last month, recently started running television ads in the state. Clinton, who talked about domestic terrorism in Minneapolis in December, has added to her paid Minnesota staff and commented on Minnesota local policy proposals with increasing frequency this month. Her campaign started advertising in Minnesota markets, according to Federal Communications Commission files, this week.

Minnesota Democrats have given both candidates reason to believe the state could be theirs. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, has attracted massive crowds at his Minnesota events and scored a huge win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire’s primary.

Clinton has had staff in the state for months and has all but locked down Minnesota’s super delegates, the elected and party officials who get a delegate slot at the national convention automatically. Of the 19 Minnesota super delegates, Clinton has endorsements from 11 of them.

Those supporters include U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton, all of whom have campaigned for the former secretary of state.

Sanders had the support of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, who is also a super delegate. Ellison is one of Sanders’ few congressional backers but has been an ardent supporter, speaking on Sanders’ behalf and defending him.

On Thursday, Clinton landed the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, a group that could help her solidify the vote among racial minorities in advance of presidential contests in states that have more diverse populations than early-voting Iowa and New Hampshire.

But Ellison was quick to discount the PAC’s endorsement.

On Twitter, he said: “Cong’l Black Caucus (CBC) has NOT endorsed in presidential. Separate CBCPAC endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me.”

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By Thursday evening, his message had been shared more than 2,000 times.

Other Minnesota super delegates have nuanced positions.

Javier Morillo-Alicea, a staffer at the Clinton-supporting SEIU union and an elected Democratic national committeeman, is a Clinton supporter but said he does not believe in super delegate strength making the key difference at the national convention.

“I would have been in favor of changes to our structure,” he said. As shocked Sanders supporters were realizing that Clinton’s super delegate strength in New Hampshire gave her nearly equal New Hampshire delegate strength despite Sanders’ primary blowout, Morillo-Alicea wrote: “In the unlikely event of the convention coming down to super delegates deciding over the will of the voting electorate of primary and caucus goers, I would not participate in that. What that means, who the heck knows. It’s a far-fetched hypothetical.”

Friday’s Minnesota visit by the two candidates, however, is not hypothetical, which has meant a lot of extra planning for the DFL Party.

Not only do both Sanders and Clinton have Secret Service protection, which requires many more steps for the organizations hosting them, they both have packed schedules, which also requires some juggling.

Martin said that initially they had planned to let the two speak alphabetically by last name. That would have meant Clinton spoke first at the Friday evening dinner.

But both candidates had travel plans that made a switch easier for the candidates, so Sanders, who plans to speak in North Minneapolis on Friday afternoon, will speak first and Clinton second.

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“We understand their constraints,” Martin said. “The difficulties, I guess, are a glorious problem to have.”

 

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a partner of Forum News Service.

Related Topics: CLINTON
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