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Senate Candidates Appeal to DFL Insiders
by Mark Zdechlik
February 7, 2000
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The DFL candidates for U.S. Senate pressed the flesh with party leaders gathered at a St. Louis Park school Saturday for a meeting of the party's central committee. In addition to passing out buttons and bumper stickers, the candidates addressed the delegates.
Campaign 2000
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ALTHOUGH ALL SIX of the DFLers who've announced their U.S. Senate candidacies want to be endorsed by the party at its June convention, not all of them plan to honor the endorsement. At least one intends to run in the September primary regardless of who the party endorses. That angers many activists who make up the DFL's central committee.

Each candidate was given just a few minutes at the microphone before the high school cafeteria packed with delegates.
Kelley: I'm going to seek your endorsement and I'm going to abide by that endorsement.
State Senator Steve Kelley drew applause when he reminded the crowd his campaign will live or die by the convention endorsement.
Kelley: A lot of people are doing better, but not everyone is. And we have one U.S. Senator, Paul Wellstone, who's committed to everyone doing better in this new economy. But he's got a problem. He's got an anchor hanging off him called Rod Grams.
Attorney Mike Ciresi, who from the outset has said he'll run in the party with or without the endorsement, asked central committee members to keep an open mind about his candidacy. Like Kelley, Ciresi talked about economics.
Ciresi: I believe that Democrats should take the surplus we do have, and before we give any tax cut, we should reinvest in our people.
Ciresi promised delegates he'd run the best-organized campaign the state has seen. Attorney David Lillehaug, who plans to honor the party's endorsement process, took exception to Ciresi.
Lillehaug: One of the candidates said, "Hey, we're going to run the best-coordinated campaign." Well, by his analysis, apparently that well-coordinated campaign begins after the primary, September 19. We're running against an incumbent United States Senator. And that's why all of us, united after the convention, will work night and day and run through brick walls to beat Rod Grams.
State Senator Jerry Janezich, who's honoring the endorsement, underscored his voting record as an advocate for working families.
Janezich: I walked the talk. This year , in November, the WTO was in Seattle. I was the only U.S. Senate candidate who was in Seattle and marched with the environmentalists, the farmers, and working men and women.
University of Minnesota physician Steve Miles, a candidate who's honoring the endorsement, said his background in medicine and in education suits him well for the Senate.
Miles: We need a scientist in the Senate. It's for your children, it's for your world, people will vote for it. I'm the only candidate in this race, and one of the few people in the Senate, who can speak to science issues and who can interpret them.
Twin Cities' businesswoman Rebecca Yanisch, the only woman in the race told DFLers that her life experiences uniquely qualify her to represent Minnesotans in Washington. Yanisch says she hasn't decided whether she'll abide by the endorsement.
Yanisch: I worked my way through college supporting my daughter on my own. I graduated with a degree in finance, and even went on to go to graduate school later. I know the value of education in getting us to economic self-sufficiency. And that's the perspective I want to bring to the United States Senate.
So far, most of the campaign talk among the six announced DFL Senate candidates has focused on shared party ideals, with those vying for Rod Grams Senate seat reserving criticism of one another in favor of attacking the incumbent's record.

Party leaders say they hope that will continue to be the case as the relatively long list of DFL suitors vie for the change to run against the Republican Grams in the general election this fall.