Sellner is delegate to Democratic National Convention

Deb Moldaschel
On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Minnesota delegates were invited to a gathering at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Pictured from left: Lori Sellner of Sleepy Eye, Angie Hanson of Albert Lea, Jim Hepworth of Lake Crystal, Rachel Zhang of Rochester, Elly Zaragoza of Mankato and Jacob Grippen of Winona.

Lori Sellner of Sleepy Eye is Chairman of the Brown County DFL and has been active in the Minnesota DFL for many years as well. She serves the state party as a Democratic National Committee Member.

Sellner, a Super Delegate, has attended each National Democratic Convention since 2004. She attended again this year, but this time the convention was conducted virtually.

Sellner agreed to write a brief recap of her experiences each day of the National Convention last week. Her final remarks at the end of the week, sum up her thoughts on the virtual format.

“All in all I really loved how the convention went this year and I think some things may change with future conventions because of it,” Sellner said. “Maybe some sort of hybrid convention, for example. I think this year’s roll call was the best I’ve seen.”

Sellner’s thoughts on the week:

Monday, Aug. 17

•Michelle Obama’s speech was unbelievably compelling and I now know she’s one of the few people on the planet who is as compelling a speaker without a live audience as she is with one. I’ll be re-watching that one.

•I loved the piece with all the Amtrak employees who’ve known Joe Biden during all of his years of public service, taking the train to and from work every day, for decades. They really showed how well Joe relates to regular people like me. I think empathy was one of the stronger themes of the night and that definitely came out in this segment and others.

•I spent the entire day pretty much online, starting with our breakfast meeting with delegates from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. We heard from Senator Klobuchar, Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas, and I had the privilege of introducing Gov. Walz. I went online later to virtually attend the Women’s Caucus to hear from many female candidates, the Interfaith Council, and the Black Caucus.

•I also enjoyed hearing from John Kasich and other Republicans who are putting country ahead of party.

Tuesday, Aug. 18

•Tuesday started with our zoom breakfast meeting with South Dakota and North Dakota delegates again. We got to hear from several speakers — my favorite being Congressman Jim Clyburn, who is a personal hero. After that I jumped on a Minnesota Biden Rural Coalition zoom, followed by our DNC Rural Council meeting that was filled with many rural leaders I admire — Democrats like Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Deb Stabenow and Gov. Andy Beshear, who talked about running for office in rural areas.

•I spent my afternoon on the meeting for the Disability Council of DNC, which is lead by former Rep. Tony Coehlo. We heard from a panel that covered numerous accessibility issues and actress Marlee Matlin spoke. Then I caught part of the DNC Native American Caucus that included speeches by Rep. Deb Holland, Rep. Sharice Davids, Sen. Corey Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

•That evening I really loved how we got to see people in their individual states do the roll call. I loved learning about the friendship between John McCain and Joe Biden. I really miss a time when it was more common to see those friendships that crossed the partisan aisle. And Jill Biden was great! Seeing her and Joe together reminded me of how relatable they and their family are in terms of the hardships they’ve been through. That’s always one of the prime qualities I look for in the candidates I support.

Something I think was effective both nights were the little round tables with Joe talking to individuals. It just shows how he really works to get to know peoples’ stories and deeply cares about their individual circumstances.

Wednesday, Aug. 19

•An amazing breakfast zoom that included five states this morning — Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. We had inspiring speeches from multiple members of Congress and both Sen. Corey Booker and Sen. Bernie Sanders. There were more than 250 delegates on that zoom meeting because of the additional states.

•After that I took in parts of the Labor Council meeting (which had a panel that included MN Auditor Julie Blaha), and the Black Caucus, which was celebrating the life of Congressman John Lewis (I was lucky to briefly meet him twice in the last few years). And finally, I took in the Women's caucus meeting that included speakers Jill Biden and Amy Klobuchar.

•Highlights for me on the evening: all the young people who were featured talking about climate, gun violence, and family separation. They make me hopeful for our future.

President Obama did an excellent job of making the case for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. He reached out to all the young people seeking change and he made the argument for the importance of this election, with our entire democracy being at stake.

It was great that we really got to know Kamala Harris through the video and her speech as she talked about her mother. Very inspiring and probably a side of her I didn’t see before.

Thursday, Aug. 20

•The final breakfast meeting was great for people like us from rural areas because we heard from former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and former Sen. Joe Donnelly, who started the One Country project which works to get our message out in our rural areas. Then we heard from other leaders who also understand the rural areas well, like Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Deb Stabenow, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and our own Sen. Tina Smith. The party has been putting a lot of effort into our rural areas and we greatly increased our numbers in rural districts in 2018 and continue to work on that. They all spoke about how devastating the Trump trade policies have been to our farmers and all of the ways they believe Biden will work to reinvigorate our rural economy.

•I attended a gathering of some of the Minnesota delegates in Minneapolis at the Nicollet Island Pavilion for the evening. Masks, social distancing, and temperature checks were part of the event.

It was great to see so many delegates in person and share the evening together. It was harder to pay close attention, because I was also visiting; I plan to re-watch some of the happenings. A couple things that stuck out were:

•Seeing a bunch of the candidates, all on screen at once, talking about their experiences on the campaign trail with Joe —Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Corey Booker, Sen. Klobuchar, etc. That was pretty unique, I thought.

•The young boy who talked about his stuttering problems and how Joe helped him. He caught all our attention and got a lot of applause.

•And finally, Joe’s speech was the best he’s ever given. Full of passion, hit on the right policies, and reminded us that democracy is on the ballot this year.

Editor’s note: There are no delegates from Sleepy Eye or Brown County at this week’s Republican National Convention.