By Patrick Howe
May 3, 2002
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Friday was unity day at the DFL state convention, as delegates unanimously endorsed U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone for a third term, Mike Hatch for a second term as attorney general and Buck Humphrey for secretary of state.
Wellstone made a rock-star entrance, grabbing hands as he wound his way through the frenzied crowd and the song "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim pulsed through loudspeakers.
The crowd then loudly endorsed his bid for a third term. Wellstone pointed out that the Minneapolis Convention Center was the same place he was endorsed for his first run in 1990.
"I still believe what I said when I started out back in 1989 - politics is not about the power games and the money. It's about the improvement of people's lives," he shouted.
In his acceptance speech, Wellstone decried the greed of pharmaceutical companies, "Robin Hood-in-reverse tax cuts" and southern politicians who would increase their own duck hunts to the detriment of Minnesota's.
"This is the state I love. This is the state I represent and I intend to win this Senate race," he said.
Humphrey, whose father Skip was state attorney general and grandfather Hubert was vice president, accepted the secretary of state nod with a speech sharply critical of the current office holder, Republican Mary Kiffmeyer.
For years, Humphrey said, he avoided politics. "I used to say I was running from office and for cover," he said. But he said his interest in the family business was sparked when he watched, dismayed, as friends became backers of Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1998. In 2000, Humphrey ran Vice President Al Gore's campaign in the state.
"This is a time for a new generation," said Humphrey, 32. "We're gonna talk about why people need to get back into self governance."
To cheers, he said Kiffmeyer has politicized the office and taken steps, such as pushing to demand more identification from same-day voters, that discourage voting.
Hatch was endorsed in one of the first official actions of the convention.
He faced no opposition and won on a voice vote. Backers praised him as an aggressive consumer advocate, noting his examination of Allina Health System, which uncovered lavish spending on consultants, executive perks, travel and gifts.
Hatch has been involved in the party for decades, but Friday's was his first party endorsement in four attempts at office. He wasn't endorsed in two attempts for the office of governor - though he only sought the honor once - or in his first run for attorney general.
Hatch also has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, but he's not actively running and downplayed his interest.
"I like the job of attorney general," he said. "We're finally hitting our groove."
On Saturday, they are expected to vote on the more contentious question of who should carry the party banner in the race for governor. Plus, in an agenda change, they expected to endorse in the race for state auditor. That vote had been expected for Sunday.More from MPR