In 2016, I was knocking on doors with a young Latina organizer who told me that, despite working so hard to get out the vote, she could not even be a delegate to our DFL conventions because she was a Dreamer. I vowed on the spot to change that. After six years of effort to update party rules and challenge state law, we succeeded in expanding who could participate in our endorsement process to include Dreamers and other non-voters.
The DFL Party works hard to build a fair and inclusive endorsement process, which is one of the many reasons why I was so disappointed to see Amane Badhasso baselessly attacking that process and accusing the DFL Party of voter suppression ("DFL establishment betrayed values to oppose me," May 12). This could not be further from the truth.
First, when Badhasso accuses "Minnesota's political establishment" of conspiring against her, let's be clear about who she is talking about.
The folks we count on to ensure our caucuses and conventions are fairly and efficiently run are diverse groups of volunteers who get together over Zoom or around kitchen tables to schedule endorsing conventions, double-check credentials, coordinate with candidates and venues, and so much more. When Badhasso lashes out at "party insiders" who are "petrified by the prospect of losing their grip on power," that's who she's referring to.
Second, when Badhasso refers to an "antiquated, broken establishment that's fighting tooth and nail to hold its grip on power," let's be clear who she is referring to.
Thanks to the reforms I have pushed from the very beginning of my time as chairman, nearly 12 years ago, this party is more diverse and open than it has ever been. As a result, we've seen more people than ever from communities of color and other underrepresented communities being elected as delegates, into party leadership positions, as well as public elected offices throughout Minnesota.
The people who participate in our caucus and convention process are not part of some "establishment" committed to the status quo. In fact, they are the exact opposite.
Our delegates, alternates and local leaders represent the great cultural and political diversity of this state and country. They are activists and engaged Minnesotans who give their time and energy to build power for their communities.
What's most disappointing to me is that Amane Badhasso knew all of this when she launched her bad-faith attacks not just on our endorsement process, but on the incredible volunteers and delegates who work so hard to make that process happen.
We're always working on trying to improve the endorsement process, as with the recent inclusion of Dreamers and other non-voters, to ensure it puts the power to make decisions over who our DFL Party endorses, what we stand for, and who leads our movement at every level, in the hands of everyday people, not special interests.
Endorsement challenges are a part of our party's history. I have no issue with someone who decides to challenge a sitting elected official. Fairly contested, these challenges help ensure our party stays connected to the communities we serve. Irrespective of the outcome, our DFL Party has always supported our endorsed candidates. As long as I am chairman, I will continue to back this system which gives power to the grassroots instead of the moneyed interests.
What I will not tolerate are bad-faith attacks on our endorsement process leveled by candidates looking for an excuse not to abide by that endorsement.
The fact of the matter is that congresswoman Betty McCollum has been a tremendous champion for our environment, human rights, universal health care, reproductive rights, and so much more. Given her record, it is no surprise to me that DFL delegates chose to endorse congresswoman McCollum over Amane Badhasso by an almost 2 to 1.
If Badhasso takes this campaign to a primary, I have no doubt voters will deliver a similar verdict.
Ken Martin is chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.