BY DAVE TILSEN
The state DFL decided that all Senate district conventions would have to be online this year because of the threat of the COVID-19 virus. This had never been done before, and none of us knew how it was going to turn out. A lot of people put in a lot of energy here in South Minneapolis to make it work and the results were announced on Thursday, May 7, after ten days of online voting.
There were 582 ballots cast. Of these delegates, 420 voted for Omar Fateh, 153 for Sen. Jeff Hayden, 7 votes for no endorsement and 2 abstentions. That is 72.4% for the challenger.
Sen. Hayden has raised questions about the integrity of the list of delegates. He has questions about whether all of them are legitimate residents of the precinct. The process the DFL uses to police this is the Credentials Committee.
A credentials committee made up of delegates selected at precinct caucuses, and composed of members of both campaigns, worked hard to
validate the voting delegates and to obtain correct emails. They emailed the delegates first, and for those that didn’t respond, they snail-mailed and phone-called. They also responded to the challenges from each campaign with investigations and deliberations. They verified addresses with whatever means they could—testimony, visits and phone calls. They ended up with a list of delegates that the committee was confident with. All but two of their votes were unanimous and those two votes had two dissenting votes. The Hayden campaign (not the members of the committee) still objected at the end to 97 of the delegates that were on the final list that was sent to and approved by the district central committee. If all 97 of these delegates ended up voting for Mr. Fateh, an assumption that is difficult to make, the final result would have been unchanged.
In fact, I have had access to the spreadsheet of how everyone voted, (there are no secret ballots at conventions), and even if everyone with a Somali name had not voted, the results would have been the same.
But there is another thing here that I feel compelled to say. There is an ugly undercurrent of prejudice and racism within the DFL toward Somalis who organize in their community to seek electoral success. There is an assumption that there is cheating, and that they cannot be trusted. I am certainly not accusing Sen. Hayden of that in this instance, but no one who has been around the last several conventions should be able to deny my contention. Two years ago, the chair of one convention refused to gavel the convention to order simply because he did not believe that a fair result was possible. This insidious unfair thinking must be challenged. It was unfair when the Irish immigrants were discriminated against, unfair when it was done to the Swedes, the Germans, the Japanese, the Jews, and we need to stop doing it to the East Africans.
As we move into the summer, we will look forward to a campaign for our votes from Mr. Fateh and whomever files to run against him.
[Editor’s Note: Emma Greenman, a Paul Wellstone progressive, won the DFL endorsement for state representative for 63B to replace Jean Wagenius.]