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  DFL backs Coleman for (Saint Paul) mayor
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Last EditedEric  May 01, 2005 11:33am
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MediaNewspaper - St. Paul Pioneer Press
News DateSunday, May 1, 2005 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionFormer City Council member Chris Coleman on Saturday took the DFL Party endorsement in his bid for St. Paul mayor, edging out his rival, Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega.

Coleman took a 53 percent to 45 percent lead on the first ballot of more than 500 delegates and widened the gap slightly in a second vote before Ortega conceded.

"We are going to go out and we are going to take this to every neighborhood," Coleman told the party faithful gathered at Arlington High School Saturday afternoon. "We're going to unite and we're going to bring progressive values into City Hall."

He was joined onstage by Ortega, as well as U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum. Both called for DFLers to support Coleman — who has bucked the party endorsement in the past — to defeat incumbent first-term Democrat Randy Kelly, who did not seek his party's nod this year.

"I accept your decision. It's what we're about," Ortega told delegates. "I will be there working for the Democratic Party."

The harmony came in sharp contrast to previous conventions. In 2001, DFLers endorsed City Council Member Jay Benanav for mayor, but former Council Member Bob Long went ahead to run anyway — and be defeated — in the primary election. Benanav lost the general election two months later.

The run-up to this year's endorsement had been contentious as well, and delegates were narrowly divided after the March 1 precinct caucuses. Ortega had a slim six-delegate lead among the 40 percent of the convention goers who had committed to a candidate before Saturday.

But previously uncommitted DFLers from the East Side gave Coleman a 32-delegate boost on the first ballot, putting the endorsement out of Ortega's grasp.
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