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  • Webb Blog

    Convention thoughts from Tom Webb

    Thursday, July 29, 2004

    Minnesota passes. Minnesota waits. America sleeps. 

    It was after midnight, with Boston's Fleet Center nearly empty, when Minnesota became the last-in-the-nation delegation to cast its votes for John Kerry.

    In the end, the delegation cast 85 votes for John Kerry, and 1 for Dennis Kucinich. Or rather, that's what they did - after first flubbing the vote.

    Here's the chronology.

    The traditional roll-call of the states began about 11 p.m., once the prime-time TV coverage had ended. Convention-watchers know the roll call is when local officials love to brag about their state's noble people, natural beauty or winning sports teams.

    There was no suspense whatsoever about the outcome, but then, a convention without a roll call is as unthinkable as one without balloons.

    Anyway, Kerry began piling up delegates at a good clip during the roll call, and was on the verge of amassing the needed 2162, when Minnesota's turn arrived.

    But rather than cast Minnesota's 86 votes, Vice President Walter Mondale passed to Ohio, which then put Kerry over the top - all part of a cutesy little maneuver to give Ohio bragging rights.

    Then the rest of the states and territories all cast their votes before Minnesota finally got its chance. By then, the hall was almost empty, the hour was after midnight, and some of the other delegations were probably in asleep in their hotels.

    First, DFL chairman Mike Erlandson spoke:

    "Madame Secretary, my name is Mike Erlandson, and we may be last today, but we are never least in the great state of Minnesota. It's an honor to be the chairman of the greatest grassroots party in the entire United States of America, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. I'm honored to be joined by all of our delegates, Congresswoman McCollum, and and let me introduce the greatest statesman that our nation has ever seen, Walter Mondale."

    Then Mondale spoke.

    "Thank you. We're from the state of Minnesota, the state of Hubert Humphrey, and the state of Paul and Sheila Wellstone, the state of our superb senator Mark Dayton and public servants like Betty McCollum, a state that above all believes in putting her children first, and state that devoutly believes that peace can only be achieved through strength AND wisdom. Tonight, we stand united..."

    Then Mondale announced that Minnesota cast 85 votes for John Edwards, and 1 for Dennis Kucinich.

    After a moment of confusion, Mondale corrected himself. He meant John KERRY.

    Tom Webb

    Tom Webb is the Washington correspondent for the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. He can be reached at

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       •  July 2004
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