Gov. Mark Dayton took the stage Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to make his pitch for electing Hillary Clinton president.
Dayton’s three-minute speech came several hours before Clinton was scheduled to accept the party’s nomination.
In it, he praised Clinton as “a trusted partner” when they served together in the U.S. Senate, and someone who will have real solutions to the problems Americans face.
“I’m here tonight in part because my home state of Minnesota has been hit hard by tragedy, and we’re not alone,” Dayton said. “Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, should tell us that we need a wise, compassionate and strong leader for all Americans.”
Dayton also took some jabs at Republican nominee Donald Trump. He said Clinton has dedicated her life to serving others, while Trump has dedicated his life to serving himself.
State Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL-St. Louis Park, also had a speaking slot on the convention’s final day.
Flanagan’s remarks were in the form of a letter to her 3-year-old daughter Siobhan, whom she said wants to be president when she grows up.
“Politics isn’t always fun,” Flanagan said. “Sometimes you run into some pretty mean people who don’t like you simply for being you. Like the naughty guy Donald Trump on TV. The one who says all those nasty things about women and about Native Americans like us.”
Flanagan also assured her daughter that Clinton will “keep our women safe, keep our veterans well-cared-for, and keep the promises the United States has made to our tribes.”
Minnesota is back to perfect, at least in the eyes of one Wall Street credit rating agency.
Fitch Ratings elevated Minnesota’s status to AAA on Thursday, the top rating that typically brings better interest rates when the state borrows for construction projects. The rating had been AA+ since 2011, when lingering effects of the last recession and political gridlock caused a downgrade.
“Minnesota has shown significant financial resilience through downturns and a strong commitment to bolstering its financial position as conditions improve,” Fitch analysts wrote in the memo announcing the latest change.
There are two other rating firms watched by bond buyers; Minnesota has improved in their rankings, too, but is still a notch shy of sterling. The Fitch change comes as Minnesota finance officials prepare to sell nearly $800 million in bonds for projects previously authorized by the Legislature.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who is in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, hailed the news in a written statement.
“This upgrade, to Fitch’s top credit rating, is a testament to the hardworking Minnesotans and businesses across our state who have led our economic recovery, and to the work our state has done over the past six years to right the fiscal ship,” Dayton said.
The Fitch raters did strike some notes of caution.
“Historically, budget negotiations have often been contentious at times of split government,” they wrote. “Following the November 2014 elections, and after two years of single-party control, control is once again divided between the two political parties.”
That said, the analysts pointed out the last time Dayton and the Legislature passed a budget “the process was significantly smoother than in some earlier years _ disagreements surrounding the budget for the fiscal 2012 -2013 biennium resulted in delayed budget adoption and a 21-day partial state government shutdown.”
Bernie Sanders spoke to DNC delegates from Minnesota and three other states on the final morning of the convention. Tim Pugmire | MPR News
With Mark Zdechlik
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Minnesota Democrats Thursday to work to elect Hillary Clinton, his former rival for the party’s presidential nomination.
Sanders spoke to a packed gathering of Democratic National Convention delegates from Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon and Tennessee at a hotel just outside Philadelphia. He thanked them for their support and “great victories” in their states.
“Our agenda is the future of America,” Sanders said.
Sanders pledged that his self-described revolution would continue, with organized efforts to elect like-minded progressive candidates across the country. But he urged his supporters to embrace a more immediate mission in the coming weeks.
“It is absolutely imperative that we work as hard as we can to make sure Donald Trump is defeated and Hillary Clinton is elected,” he said.
Sanders described Trump as a “demagogue,” and the “most dangerous candidate to run for president” in modern times.
“What a demagogue is about is running a campaign for president based on bigotry, based on trying to get one group of people to hate another group of people, and we will never allow that to happen in this country,” he said.
A majority of Minnesota delegates are Sanders supporters, reflecting the state’s precinct caucus results.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale also addressed the delegates. Mondale reminded them they were in the same city where, in 1948, Hubert Humphrey successfully pushed for the adoption of a civil rights plank at the Democratic convention.
Mondale said history was made again this week in Philadelphia.
“Finally, finally, well over 200 years in the history of our country the Democratic Party has nominated a great woman,” he said, “and she’s going to be the next President of the United States.”
Some delegates are accepting Sanders’ call for party unity and say they are willing to vote for Clinton. Erika Onsrud, a Sanders delegate from Minneapolis, is among those who are not ready to make such a commitment.
“Come November, I will vote my conscience, but not today,” Onsrud said.
Onsrud remains bitter over what she believes was an unfair primary process that had most all top Democratic leaders lined up in support of Clinton. Recent leaked DNC emails bolster the claims of bias.
“We know without a doubt that the hand was on the scale,” she said.
Sanders delegate Will Moore, 27, of north Minneapolis said Sander’s plea made a big impression on him. Mark Zdechlik | MPR News
Will Moore, 24, of north Minneapolis said Sander’s plea made a big impression on him.
“He had to push me because I wasn’t going to vote for her. That was an amazing shift for me. I’m very sure that all of us are going to vote for Hillary because we don’t want Trump as a president,” he said.
It’s not just voting for Clinton that party leaders are looking for from activists. They hope they’ll be enthusiastic supporters who will work hard to convince others to vote for Clinton.
Listening to Sanders tout the Democratic platform’s left-leaning positions on higher education funding and health care left Jake Mazurek, 27, of Mound more excited about winning in November.
“Prior to him coming today I was still going to vote for Hillary Clinton because the alternative is unspeakable, but I wasn’t excited about it. I was going to do it as a duty,” he said. “Now I have a little bit of passion knowing that they are working together to push the party further to the left.”
But Sanders didn’t convince all of the delegates.
Rod Halvorson, a Sanders delegate from St. Paul, said the appearance of his preferred candidate was “very therapeutic.” He’s already working to form a state organization to continue Sanders’ agenda.
But Halvorson says he won’t decide how he will vote until he hears Clinton’s acceptance speech and sees how she campaigns in the coming weeks.
“How she basically campaigns towards us, while she’s also campaign to the rest of the country, is an important element in a lot of people making up their mind, including me,” he said.
Good morning and welcome to Thursday, the last day of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. The third day saw the biggest names in Democratic politics on the stage in Philadelphia making the case for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump. And their speeches came just hours after Trump seemed to invite Russia to play a Read more →
Democratic National Committee Vice Chair R.T. Rybak apologized to Minnesota convention delegates Tuesday for the email scandal that led to a shakeup of the party’s leadership on the eve of their national convention. Read more →