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Political notebook

ROCHESTER -- Matt Entenza looked to the back of the Mayo Civic Center and gave a thumbs-up sign to two of his Worthington High School teachers.

"The lessons I learned in Worthington, the lessons I learned from the Copperuds are not lost on me," the DFL attorney general candidate said during his nomination acceptance speech Sunday. "I won't forget where I came from."

Entenza, the House minority leader, is a St. Paul lawyer and former assistant attorney general. He will take on Republican Jeff Johnson, a Plymouth House member also with rural roots. Johnson came from Detroit Lakes.

He faced no competition and was unanimously endorsed Sunday during the final hours of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party state convention in Rochester.

Entenza said he would protect veterans from identity theft, the main specific item it announced Sunday. He also pledged to fight any federal telephone wiretapping in Minnesota.

The Copperuds sat in the back of the convention hall soaking it all in.

"He was very special," psychology teacher David Copperud said.

His wife, English teacher Ellen Copperud, said she was not surprised at Entenza's passionate speech because he was on the Worthington debate team and "an award winning public speaker."

"He was just a very good student," she added.

Ritchie endorsed

It was supposed to be close, but Mark Ritchie didn't even need to wait for the results to be announced in the Democratic secretary of state race to accept the party's endorsement.

Christian Sande spoke to the convention before the first ballot's results were announced, saying he could not win and threw his support behind Ritchie.

Both candidates were harsh on Republican incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer, calling her partisan.

Ritchie said he got into the race because after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a 2002 airplane crash, days before the election, Kiffmeyer would not let him cast a replacement of his absentee ballot for the new Democratic candidate, former Vice President Walter Mondale.

In 2002, Ritchie organized a national get-out-the-vote effort, called one of the most successful in the country's history. For 20 years, he was president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a non-profit group.

Frequent unsuccessful candidate Dick Franson, like Ritchie of Minneapolis, plans to run in the primary election.

Platform adopted

Democrats decided they did not want to look into impeaching President Bush, but did want the Patriot Act reviewed.

Officials took a couple of days to count votes, but on Sunday morning announced the platform planks convention delegates accepted.

Among items adopted were:

• Seeking a moratorium on planting of genetically modified wild rice.

• Opposing any further limits to abortion rights.

• Inserting into the state Constitution: "Every Minnesotan has the right to health care."

• Requiring pharmacists to fill every legal prescription, a reaction to some who don't want to fill birth-control prescriptions.

• One that failed would have called for removing American troops from Iraq within a year.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.