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Moe popular at 'home' DFL convention

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- Roger Moe could barely move in his two-room convention hospitality suite Friday night, while relatively few people mingled with his two major opponents.

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- Roger Moe could barely move in his two-room convention hospitality suite Friday night, while relatively few people mingled with his two major opponents.

Moe, a 32-year Erskine senator, was close to home in western Minnesota, surrounded by family and neighbors. But Becky Lourey and Judi Dutcher didn't let that bother them.

"As with the rest of the districts, we have a lot of supporters here, too," said Dutcher, the state auditor for nearly eight years.

"I really feel the momentum," Lourey, a state senator from Kerrick, said of western Minnesota.

But reality set in as Dutcher eyed the delegates, seeing most wearing blue Moe stickers.


"I'm looking out and I'm seeing a lot of blue," she said, inviting them to her hospitality suite. "I'm not a fool. ... If I can't get your support, at least I can buy you a beer."

The three gubernatorial candidates stopped by the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls as DFLers met for their 7th Congressional District convention.

The gathering winds up today after delegates endorse a candidate for U.S. House in the vast western Minnesota district. Incumbent Collin Peterson is the only one running.

Moe, Dutcher and Lourey made Fergus Falls their first stop on a busy weekend. Today they planned to attend conventions in locations as varied as Rochester in the southeast and Virginia in the northeast.

Moe, who received the loudest cheers when the three spoke, said he was comfortable in Fergus Falls.

"This is home," he said of western Minnesota. "These are people I have worked with for many, many years."

Three of Moe's sisters were among those who heard him deliver a fiery speech critical of Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Moe told about 100 convention delegates that Ventura took over state government with a $2 billion surplus; the state now has about that large a deficit.


"Are you better off today than you were three years ago?" he asked, with delegates saying they did not think so.

"It seems to me Jesse Ventura is trying to do for Minnesota what he did with the XFL," Moe said about the failed football league the governor worked for.

Lourey, the most liberal of the three candidates, urged delegates to return to traditional Democratic values and endorse her at the state DFL convention a week from today.

She predicted Ventura would run again, although he says he has not decided.

"Being governor is the most lucrative gig Jesse ever had," Lourey said. "I will not let Jesse Ventura take one single Democratic vote."

Lourey also promoted her own background.

"Only one of us has beaten incumbents, tough incumbents," she said. "Only one of us has turned a Republican district into a Democratic district."

"If this contest is based upon who has been a Democrat the longest, I'm done," said Dutcher, who was elected state auditor as a Republican before switching to the DFL.


Dutcher emphasized education in her short speech.

"Public education is not a black hole," she said. "It is the economic engine that drives Minnesota."

Dutcher received the endorsement of Education Minnesota, the state's largest teachers union.

A fourth Democratic candidate for governor, Minneapolis artist Ole Savior, did not attend the Fergus Falls convention.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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