Eight-term DFL Sen. John Marty prevailed in an endorsement contest against fellow senator Mary Jo McGuire on Saturday after only one ballot.
Hundreds of DFL activists gathered at the Washington Technology Magnet school in St. Paul to endorse three candidates in the newly-drawn Senate District 66, which now includes Roseville, Falcon Heights and parts of St. Paul. DFL incumbent Reps. Alice Hausman and John Lesch had no challengers for their endorsement.
Delegates were forced to pick between incumbent senators and political allies Marty and McGuire after the maps placed Marty’s home base of Roseville in the same district as McGuire’s Falcon Heights home.
Marty appeared visibly distressed before the endorsement contest began. “It’s tough,” he said. “It’s no fun to be running against your friend.”
A handful of current and retired lawmakers from the area showed up to support their colleagues . DFL Sen. Sandy Pappas, Rep. Phyllis Kahn and former St. Paul Sen. Ellen Anderson all showed up in support of McGuire. DFL Sen. Patricia Torres Ray was present sporting a Marty button. Most delegates took sides visibly, dressing in either blue “It’s Marty Time” shirts, or in McGuire shirts in her signature red color.
“The hardest thing you ever have to do is choose between your friends,” Anderson said. “We have to remember we are all on the same team. We must be unified as soon as this is over.”
McGuire served in the House from 1989 to 2002, when redistricting combined her district with Hausman’s. McGuire stepped aside to avoid an endorsement battle but was able to return to the Legislature one year ago in a special election triggered by the retirement of Anderson.
“I’ve began to wonder what the luck of the Irish is?” McGuire told delegates before balloting. McGuire wont go to a primary election, and says she plans to stay active in the DFL party. For McGuire, there are no hard feelings. “If I had to concede to anyone, I’m happy it’s John.”