4th District DFL Unites Behind Betty McCollum
The Fourth District DFL held its convention on Saturday, May 6, 2000 at North High School in North St. Paul and enthusiastically endorsed Representative Betty McCollum to be its candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Bruce Vento.
Although some observers had predicted that the contest would drag into the late hours of the evening, the endorsement was completed by 5:30 p.m. after only five ballots. This was due in no small part to the graciousness of Mary Rosenthal who withdrew her candidacy once it became clear that her support had peaked. This was in spite of the fact that she had sufficient votes to continue for several more ballots. Mary deserves a great deal of credit for the spirit of unity that pervaded the convention, along with all of the other candidates---St. Paul City Councilman Chris Coleman, South St. Paul Mayor Kathleen Gaylord, Representative Mary Jo McGuire, Senator Steve Novak and County Commissioner Rafael Ortega.
The convention went smoothly from start to finish, a tribute to Fourth District Chair Greta Lilleodden Unowsky and Associate Chair John Sherman. The adoption of the rules and the election of party officers took place without contention. This came as a pleasant surprise to some of us who remember more than a few past conventions where fighting over rules took up most of the morning. Adding District 64 icing to the Fourth District cake, our own Pat Sellner was elected Fourth District Chair and Hugh Gitlin was elected Secretary.
Congressman Bruce Vento gave an inspiring speech thanking all of his friends for helping him over the last 24 years. He urged the delegates to endorse a candidate and keep the seat from falling into Republican hands.
The nominations for endorsement began promptly at 10:30 a.m. Each of the candidates was allotted fifteen minutes for nominating and seconding speeches. A half-hour question and answer session followed.
Then the balloting commenced. On the first ballot, Betty McCollum emerged with a narrow lead over Mary Rosenthal, 26.4% to 25.1%. Mary Jo McGuire was third with 14.6%, followed by Steve Novak at 13.3%, Chris Coleman at 11.4%, Kathleen Gaylord at 5.4% and Rafael Ortega at 3.7%.
On the second and third ballots, McCollum and Rosenthal each increased their votes, with McCollum maintaining her lead. Coleman, Ortega and Gaylord withdrew. Novak jumped ahead of McGuire on the third ballot to hold third place.
Then came the pivotal fourth ballot. McGuire had withdrawn prior to the voting and the bulk of her support swung to McCollum. This resulted in McCollum taking a commanding lead over Rosenthal, 46.2% to 35.2%, with Novak trailing at 18.5%. Novak then withdrew.
On the fifth ballot, McCollum and Rosenthal both dropped slightly. McCollum continued to maintain her lead, but she was still a long way from the necessary 60%. It was at this point that Mary Rosenthal decided that an early endorsement was more important than continuing on for what could have been many more ballots. In a selfless show of unity, she asked the delegates for a unanimous endorsement of Betty McCollum. Not a single “nay” was heard on the voice vote.
The final business of the convention was the election of delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Senate district 64 will be well represented as John Choi, Jeanne Walsh, Greta Lilleodden Unowsky and Eric Bergstrom were elected along with Kathleen Gaylord, Kathy Smalec, and Randy Asuma. Bill Wilson was elected an alternate. Congratulations to John, Jeanne, Greta and Eric and have a great time in L.A.
All in all, it was a highly successful convention. Betty McCollum is a superb candidate. As Harry Truman said in 1948, “We are going to win this election in November and make the Republicans like it”. Bring on Linda Runbeck!