Associated Press, Published April 26 2010
Kelliher gains support from prominent elected Democrats; endorsed governor candidate plans Moorhead visit todayBLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Prominent Democrats lined up behind Margaret Anderson Kelliher on Monday to kick off a flyaround "unity tour" of the state and pivot the party's endorsed candidate for governor toward the primary election.
The state's two U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, gave their support to Kelliher as she started her statewide tour at the Bloomington office of a solar panel manufacturer. U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz, as well as Kelliher's former endorsement rivals state Sen. John Marty, state Rep. Paul Thissen and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, also joined her and called for a unified front to take the governor's office this fall.
"People want someone who will stand up, tell the truth and build partnerships," Kelliher said during a Minnesota Public Radio show on Monday. "I bring people together and that's the kind of governor Minnesota needs."
Kelliher used the visit to the solar company, tenKsolar, as a way to highlight her campaign message of "jobs, prosperity and opportunity." She said the Minnesota-focused company will be able to export its products to Europe by this summer.
The troupe of Democrats also planned stops at a Rochester wind turbine training facility, the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato and Minnesota State University in Moorhead.
Kelliher won the party's endorsement over the weekend but faces at least three Democrats in the August primary: former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, former state Rep. Matt Entenza and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner. They still plan on running in the primary despite calls from Democrats for them to drop out and throw their weight behind Kelliher.
Entenza said on MPR that working toward the primary from the start strengthens his chances.
"There's a reason it's been 40 years since an endorsed candidate won," he said.
His campaign is airing the first television ad of the governor's race, spending about $140,000 this week alone.
Dayton said putting the decision to voters in a primary election instead of letting party delegates decide is the "Democratic way."
"In a democracy, the people decide," he said on MPR. "I don't know why anyone would be afraid of an election."
Kelliher said she plans to remain Minnesota House speaker "for now," though she didn't rule out stepping aside before the Legislature concludes its session in about three weeks.
She was missing action at the Capitol on Monday to campaign.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.