No DFL endorsement for Rukavina seat, primary awaits

In the open seat to replace Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) in the new district 6B, two DFLers battled to a draw today at the DFL endorsing convention in Hibbing.

Jason Metsa led Lorrie Janatopoulos after four ballots but lacked the 60 percent needed to win endorsement.

Turnout at this convention was suprisingly low; just 42 votes would have won. The win number at the contested 5B convention in Cohasset was 88 (Tom Anzelc won 106). I don’t know why there was such a big disparity in turnout between these two places, especially considering that the DFL index in 6B is higher than in 5B.

This means that not only will Metsa and Janatopoulos continue to a primary, other candidates may feel emboldened to enter a primary. In fact, I’d argue that’s now likely. We will find out next Tuesday when filings open.

State Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) was unanimously endorsed in SD5. Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) was also endorsed unanimously in HD6A.


I received some comprehensive numbers from Ida Rukavina later.

Between 68-70 delegates voted on the five ballots. Metsa led 38-29 on the first ballot and gained and lost a vote or two on subsequent ballots. It’s amazing that over that many ballots the candidates held their support so steadily. Though Metsa was at one point just a vote shy of endorsement the motion was made for no endorsement when it was clear that the vote would not come.

Both Metsa and Janatopoulos had expressed some acceptance of a primary, given the short amount of time from Rukavina’s retirement announcement and the previously scheduled convention. The eastern Iron Range will host a down-home DFL primary and perhaps that is the best way for the party to select a representative for such a pivotal seat in local political culture.

Earlier I said other candidates would be likely. I’ll amend that to say that it’s possible. No other candidates have been organizing yet. It’s possible that a name could jump in on a lark, but it’d have to be a big name to move ahead of well-known DFLers like Metsa or Janatopoulos. Only on the Range do you get to write a sentence like that.

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