Justice Page Middle School, site of the Senate District 62 convention (twitter.com).
by Tony Petrangelo
Mar 14, 2018, 10:00 AM

Minnesota Senate District 62 Convention: Retirements, Credentials, Walkouts and Quorums

As you may have heard, the Minnesota Senate District 62 Convention, which took place on Saturday March 10th, had some – let’s say – difficulties. The results of these difficulties were that the A side of the district didn’t endorse a candidate for an open House seat, and for that matter, never even completed a single round of voting. Also, and as a result, the Senate district as a whole failed to elect delegates to the state convention because of a lack of a quorum.

Having been a delegate at the convention (ward 5, precinct 8) it seemed appropriate that I try to address what happened, as best as I can piece it together.

I want to make clear right now that none of what is written below is meant to be an attack or disparagement of the people who volunteered their time to make (or try to make) this convention happen.


In some ways the stage was set for potential chaos when both Karen Clark and Susan Allen decided to retire in the same cycle. I’m not blaming them, they have both been fantastic public servants and can retire when they choose. But the fact that both house seats would be contested, along with people wanting to get elected delegates to go to the state convention to endorse a candidate for Governor, meant there were going to be a lot of people to contend with.


Even seven years after the census, most of the Senate districts in the state have roughly equal population. But Senate District 62 is the most DFL leaning district in the entire state, so the vast majority of that population is made up of DFLers. Combine the two issues above, open house seats and the Gubernatorial endorsement, with the most DFL dense Senate district in the state and that means even more people than a normal Senate district convention would expect under such circumstances.

Not only that, the actual location of the convention probably could have been worse, but certainly could have been better.

The first issue I was alerted to when arriving at the convention was a complete lack of adequate parking at the site or anywhere nearby. As the convention started and into the day there were repeated calls for people to move their illegally parked vehicles so that they wouldn’t get towed or so that other people could leave.

The other big issue was with the venue itself (Justice Page Middle School): there was one space well-suited for holding a Senate district convention of this size and one space well-suited for holding a House district endorsing convention of this size and they were the same space, the Auditorium. This meant that when the convention split into its respective house districts to endorse candidates, one of the sides would have to use – what proved to be – the totally inadequate cafeteria space.


The two issues above combined to make the credentialing process a nightmare for everyone involved.


I arrived at the convention shortly after 9am (I tried to make it there before 9, but had to walk about 10 blocks from where I parked) and immediately had trouble finding where to go to get checked in. Eventually, I made my way to the basement where the credentialing was taking place and began waiting in line.

The way they had the basement set up was that credentialing was taking place in the gym, with lines pouring out of the gym doors, some going into the adjacent hallway, others the cafeteria.

The line I initially got into was in the cafeteria and after waiting for about 15 minutes a volunteer redirected some of us to a different line. After making it into the gym the lines were again reformed.

Finally, after waiting in line for just short of an hour, I had my credentials.

The Convention

Once the actual convention started things went about as smoothly as they could have. We made it through the first nine items on the agenda at what for a Senate district convention of this size could only be described as warp speed. Item number 10 was to separate into House districts for endorsements of candidates for the state house and that’s when the wheels fell off again.

B-side Endorsement

Things went fine on the B-side, where the endorsement for the open House seat in 62B went to three ballots, with Aisha Gomez winning.




A-side Walkout

Things did not go so well on the A-side.

I wasn’t involved with any of the A-side so all of my knowledge comes second hand, but from what I can gather, this is what happened. After the house split the A-side went downstairs to the cafeteria where they were supposed to hold their endorsing convention, the problem was that no one checked anyone’s credentials before they went into the cafeteria, so everyone had to leave the cafeteria and then they let everyone back in while checking their credentials.

From that point, it’s not clear to me if the endorsing convention actually officially began or not but some people thought it did and others were not so sure. Some thought there were motions being debated, others did not. In other words, confusion reigned and eventually, the volunteers walked out. Also, delegates were apparently told to go home at that point.

Suffice it to say the A-side did not endorse anyone for the House.


It was around 6pm when the two House districts came back together to finish the Senate district business, albeit with significantly more people still around from the B side than from the A side. The first item on the reconvened Senate district agenda was the election of party officers.

The first position to be elected was Outreach Officer, but this was not necessary as two of the candidates dropped out during their speeches to endorse the other candidate. It was when the election for Treasurer happened that the first rumblings of a quorum would begin. You see, the election for Treasurer was contested, so the Senate district had to vote for a Treasurer.

After the Treasurer results were announced and while we were waiting for director candidates to give their speeches, was when the first attempt at a quorum call happened, this was at around 6:20. The first quorum motion didn’t end things though, according to the chair elections for party officers – the quorum motion was in response to the Treasurer results – did not require a quorum (or something to that effect, I didn’t hear the response from the chair in it’s entirety).

Shortly after that, when it became clear to me that yes, we were going to have to vote on 19 directors spots and I still needed to eat dinner, I left. This was around 6:45. At some point after that and before state convention delegates were selected there was a successful quorum motion and the whole thing finally came to an end.

My Quorum Hot Take

If you don’t want a quorum motion, don’t allow quorum motions.

Steve’s Quorum Not As Hot Take

If you don’t want a quorum motion being called, perhaps the convention rules, which are adopted as the first order of business at a convention, should specify that if a quorum is established that the convention may continue to conduct business if people leave.

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