(UPDATED) Check out the note I received from someone involved in the race with important corrections!

Before she became one of the most tenured members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Karen Clark started out running for a vacant Senate seat.

The incumbent, State Senator Steve Keefe, declined to run for reelection in 1980 in the face of strong opposition to Keefe’s support for a downtown domed stadium.

Clark’s opponent for the DFL endorsement was Representative Linda Berglin.

After many ballots, (I was there!) the convention deadlocked. A recess was called, and negotiations behind the scenes, (I wasn’t there!) resulted in a deal: Clark agreed to throw her support to Berglin for the Senate seat, and Berglin agreed to support Clark for her seat in the House.

Below is one of Clark’s pieces for the precinct caucuses. It appears that typesetting was accomplished with Letraset rub-on letters and a typewriter.


Hate to sound fussy, but there was quite a bit wrong with the Clark story

(1) Karen most certainly did not run for a vacant senate seat — she challenged Steve Keefe starting in August 1979, spent six months trying to get people to agree to support her over an incumbent DFLer, and on the Saturday before caucus Tuesday, it looked like Karen was going to beat Steve by an 80/20 margin, he decided to drop out in the face of that opposition.

(2) Only after that Linda got in the race.  She was not willing to challenge a fellow DFLer (I can certainly understand that!) and only got in after he dropped out.  So — the big issue for many delegates was, do they stay with Karen, the person who essentially created the opening?  Or do they go with the more more experienced person?

(3) There was no deal made between Clark and Berglin supporters convention night.  They deadlocked, partly because the Berglin people were more strategic….  Clark had the numbers; on the first ballot, she had about 50 %, and Berglin had around 30, and Lew Freeman had around 20.  But as Lew’s numbers dwindled, he would eventually hit the drop rule after a few ballots, and indications were that his supporters would split roughly evenly, giving Clark a 60/40 victory over Berglin.  (Berglin’s suppporters) were smart enough to ship just enough votes over to Lew each ballot to keep him over the drop rule and also keep him thinking “Hey, I’m going up, why should I drop out….” so eventually there was a deadlock after many hours.

(4)Then, the candidates for Berglin’s house seat ran — Nancy Anderson and Steve Rowley — and Alice Schroeder went up there kind of at the last minute, essentially representing the Clark people — and that 59A convention also deadlocked.

(5) Later, maybe a month or two later, they decided to reconvene the 59A convention.  Karen was convinced to switch to the house race.

KClarkSen1980001 KClarkSen1980002 KClarkSen1980003 KClarkSen1980004