The CD3 DFL Endorsements Committee met tonight at Ridgedale Library.
At the April 12 CD3 DFL Convention, 159 people will be seated as delegates (one of whom will cast just half a vote).
Among Minnesota's eight congressional districts CD3 is the only one in which DFLers use an endorsements committee to screen candidates for US Congress. Traditionally the Endorsements Committee has interviewed folks who want to run for Congress, assessing the strength of their organizations, their biography and character and their adherence to DFL positions. In reality the party leadership has traditionally been united around one candidate by this stage; the Endorsements Committee has been in place to prevent an unknown or unstable candidate from disrupting a smooth coronation.
This year is unlike previous years. The seat is open and DFLers are stoked to avenge Roy Wier's 1960 defeat. In the past decade, no CD3 DFL congressional campaign has spent more than $100,000. Both Madia and Bonoff will have burned through far more than $100k by April 12. The money spent on this endorsement contest isn't all wasted; the Bonoff-Madia battle has generated interest and excitement which would now be at a much lower pitch had only one serious DFLer been campaigning. The candidate who gets endorsed on April 12 will have emerged from a robust, intensive mostly-democratic process, giving our candidate a high degree of democratic legitimacy.
Delegates are reporting they're not feeling neglected by the Bonoff and Madia campaigns. Playing hard-to-get has its costs; the hail of telephone calls and emails likely encouraged many delegates to align themselves with a candidate if for no other reason that get the phone to stop ringing and the spam flood to abate.
After interviewing the candidates, the Endorsements Committee (on the day of the convention) typically issues a recommendation to the convention floor. At tonight's meeting, committee members selected questions to ask the candidates during the screening and discussed the process they'll use. They also discussed their options, once they're done interviewing the candidates: The committee can essentially end up issuing any statement it likes--recommending one candidate, multiple candidates or no candidate.
The people involved in this process are earnest and sincere, but the process is screwy, frankly. Why agonize for hours when almost everyone has already made up their mind? And why ought a small subset of the CD3 convention be issuing a recommendation at all? I mean, all delegates have likely given considerable thought to this decision already; the pretense of neutrality, at this stage, would place unfair demands on the thespian gift of Helen Mirren. The main body of delegates will, in any case, be unlikely to take a deferential attitude toward the opinion issued be the Endorsements Committee; by April 12 the Madias and Bonoffs will have schmoozed repeatedly with any delegate still amenable to schmoozing. A Madia-supporting delegate, by April 12, have broken chapati with the Madias often enough that she'd likely be oblivious if not insulted were the Endorsements Committee to tell her she ought to vote for Terri Bonoff, and vice versa [almost--wink].
People seemed to be having a good time at the Endorsements Committee meeting this evening. Seems harmless enough.