Quinn Nystrom isn't taking anything for granted this weekend, which she enters as the heavy favorite to come away with the DFL's 8th Congressional District nomination.
"I've always said I believe we have really strong support, but I don't take one delegate for granted," Nystrom said. "Every single delegate is a critical vote for us."
Nystrom, Gaylene Spolarich and Soren Sorensen are vying for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination and the right to take on incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown.
The traditional 8th District DFL Convention was postponed due to COVID-19 precautions, moving all delegate voting to mail or email. The results will be announced between 6-7 p.m. Sunday during what's billed as a "virtual celebration" on the social conferencing website Zoom.
Sen. Tina Smith, Secretary of State Steve Simon and DFL Chair Ken Martin are expected to address the virtual audience.
Nystrom, of Baxter, Minnesota, is a long-time diabetes advocate, whose fundraising throughout the campaign has far outstripped her competition. She entered April with $102,988 in cash on hand. Neither of her opponents had managed even a fraction of that, with neither candidate raising enough to have to file their campaign earnings during the first quarter of 2020.
The online nature of the campaign during the pandemic has been "nothing to complain about," Nystrom said.
"We raised more money in April than we had in January and February combined," Nystrom said this week. "Two weeks ago, we had our second best week of fundraising. We've seen a huge surge in volunteers signing up."
Nystrom declined to share those latest financial figures.
Two years ago, Democrats in the 8th District went in and came out of their convention conflicted and failing to coalesce around a nominee. It took a crowded August primary for Joe Radinovich to emerge. This time, it'd be a surprise if challengers were able to deter Nystrom from the nomination.
Each candidate shared 2-minute prepared videos for delegates in the lead-up to voting.
"I'm a long-time activist and organizer around human rights, economic justice and environmental issues," Sorensen, of Brainerd, said in his video.
Spolarich is a member of North Dakota’s Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a 40-year resident of Aitkin County.
"I have 25 years experience in local and tribal government," she told delegates. "I'm the only one capable of bridging the kind of gaps we experience in the 8th District."
Nystrom said she's been contacting delegates and gathering up volunteers as she builds a campaign aimed at taking on Stauber, whose campaign featured almost $850,000 in cash on hand entering April.
"People are really seeing that elections have consequences," Nystrom said. "Whatever small part they can do to be involved and see the election go the way they believe will make the world a better place, they will. And that's really inspiring to me as a candidate. You need a lot of people to get very excited and energized if you're going to beat an incumbent."
Nystrom hoped to emerge from the weekend with the nomination in hand and a party unified behind her.
"We want to win the endorsement and do anything we can to come out united," she said. "We saw what happened in 2018."