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SD 4 DFLers gather in Hawley; Marquart, Lien get endorsement

The Minnesota legislative team from Senate District 4 posed outside the Whistle Stop Café in Hawley after the SD 4 DFL 2014 Endorsing Convention last Sunday. (left to right) Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL, Dilworth, HD 4B), Sen. Kent Eken (DFL, Twin Valley, SD 4) and Ben Lien (DFL, Moorhead, HD 4a) all smiled for the Camera. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL, Dilworth, and House District 4B) was endorsed by delegates at the Senate District 4 2014 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Endorsing Convention on Saturday, March 22. DFLers gathered in Hawley for the biennial event. Delegates from the 4A side of SD 4 endorsed Rep. Ben Lien (DFL, Moorhead, HD 4A).  Both candidates for endorsement had no opposition and were elected to endorsement by unanimous acclamation.

Marquart was first endorsed by the DFL in 2000 and served as state representative in the old HD 9B for 12 years. After the 2012 redistricting, Marquart woke up one morning to find himself in the new SD 4. Three counties—Clay, Norman and part of Becker—make up SD 4, and former Rep. Kent Eken (DFL, Twin Valley, 2a) also woke up to find out he lived in the new SD 4.

The problem and possibility of the two housemates from the same party running against one another for endorsement in 2012 was solved when Eken ran for and won the seat left vacant when Sen. Keith Langseth (DFL, Glyndon) retired.

Marquart is now into his 14th year as a state representative, and he has represented Detroit Lakes and other portions of Becker County all of that time.

Minnesota has 67 state senators and each Senate District has an average population of just over 79,000 determined by dividing the population of our state by 67. With two House Districts in each Senate District, Minnesota has 134 state representatives and each HD has a bit over 39,500 people.

Marquart’s 4B HD basically includes everything in SD 4 that is not Moorhead.

The City of Moorhead constitutes HD 4A, which Lien claimed for the DFL in 2012 after Morrie Lanning held the seat for the Republicans for 10 years when it was the 9A side of SD 9. Serving the same amount of time as state representatives, Eken and Lanning were the Freshman Class of ’02 and both left the house in ’12.  Lanning was a popular Mayor of Moorhead for 21 years before he went to the state legislature.

The 2014 election is known as an off-year election because there is no race for U.S. President and voter turnout is historically lower during off years.

 “This 2014 election is not so much persuasion as motivation,” Marquart told the 35 delegates at the SD 4 convention. “We [the DFL] need to get all of our friends and neighbors out to vote... It has been an honor serving with Kent Eken both as a housemate from a neighboring district, and now as a senator from the same district. And [Rep] Ben [Lien]—he’s a great leader on local government aid.”

In remarks to the conventioneers, Lien stressed it is crucial that the DFL keeps control of state government. “We have turned the deficit into a surplus,” he said. “Our DFL-controlled legislature just passed a tax cut bill that makes the playing field more equal for rural schools, and that bill has been signed into law by DFL Gov. Dayton.”

The delegates elected Larry Nicholson from Moorhead to chair the convention.

Sharon Josephson from Detroit Lakes brought greetings from Cong. Collin Peterson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Al Franken.  “They just passed a farm bill significant to all Minnesotans while keeping most if not all of the food stamp program...Get all of your friends to vote, and vote right—DFL,” Josephson said.

The following new officers for SD 4 DFL were elected, all by unanimous acclamation: David Pederson (Moorhead), chairman; Monessa Hegg (Detroit Lakes), vice chair;  Larry Nicholson, secretary; Julian Dahlquist (Moorhead), Treasurer; and Cyndi Anderson (rural Detroit Lakes, Detroit Township Precinct 1), Outreach and Inclusion Officer.

In between biennial endorsing conventions, the business of the SD 4 DFL unit is run by the five officers and six directors. The following six convention delegates were elected as directors: three males—Jim Aasness (Moorhead), Cole Hegg (Detroit Lakes), and Jim McKinstra (Moorhead); and three females—Terry Kroke, Kim Pederson, and Bev Blake—all from Moorhead.

Chairman Pederson and Vice Chairwoman Hegg will serve as members of the DFL State Central Committee. The convention elected two alternates for the two SCC members.  They were Larry Nicholson, and Dianne Ray Williams (Moorhead).

The six new directors and the two alternate SCC members were elected by unanimous acclamation.

The convention gave a round of applause for outgoing SD 4 DFL Chairman Jim Aasness who has been SD 4 (or SD 9) Chairman for ten years.

Sen. Kent Eken has two miniature pet donkeys that he takes to parades—Bertha and Floyd. The is named after Floyd B. Olson who was elected as Governor of Minnesota for three consecutive two-year terms in 1930, ’32, and ’36. Gov. Floyd B. Olson was the first member of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party to be elected governor.  [The Farmer-Labor Party merged with the Minnesota Democratic Party in 1946 to become the DFL.]

“You all know about Floyd and Bertha, the donkeys I have been taking to parades and events for 12 years of campaigning,” Eken told delegates in remarks he made early in the convention. “I won’t have to run for senate again until 2016. This 2014 election cycle is the first time I have not had to run since 2002. But, I am willing to lend my donkeys— Floyd and Bertha out to Ben [Lien] and Paul [Marquart].  I want every DFLer here to know that Sen. Kent Eken is willing to put his ass on the line for this important election!”