The Potluck

Candidate who delivered speech while in labor may run in primary election

By: - April 25, 2022 4:28 pm

A Minnesota state Senate candidate who made national headlines for attending a Democratic convention while in active labor has not decided whether she will suspend her campaign or run in the primary election, according to her campaign manager.  

Erin Maye Quade, a former state representative, withdrew from the party’s endorsement process midday Saturday — roughly 10 hours after she went into labor — and left for the hospital. Her opponent, Justin Emmerich, won the endorsement to be the DFL’s nominee in Senate District 56, which covers Apple Valley.

Maye Quade agreed during the convention to abide by the endorsement, but so far there’s no guarantee she and Emmerich won’t be facing off in the August primary.  

“She has not made a decision yet on if the campaign will be going to a primary,” Mitchell Walstad, Maye Quade’s campaign manager, told the Reformer. “I’ve only talked to her very briefly since she left (for the hospital) Saturday. I’m still giving her space to just be a new mom and not worry about all of this.”

A video of Maye Quade pausing in the middle of her convention speech as she went into a contraction Saturday went viral, sparking criticisms that the endorsement should have been postponed altogether. People who were at the convention offer varying explanations for why it wasn’t.

Walstad said Maye Quade’s campaign team wasn’t sure until 8:30 a.m. whether she’d be able to make it to the convention at all. When she arrived, Walstad said he requested they flip the schedule to start with the endorsement process, rather than other party business. Emmerich and local party officials agreed.

During conventions, candidates seeking endorsements give speeches, participate in a Q&A and talk with delegates to try to win their support. Throughout the morning, Maye Quade was having contractions every 10-20 minutes, going into a separate room for privacy whenever possible until the contractions subsided, Walstad said.

After the first round of balloting, Emmerich had 55% of the votes to Maye Quade’s 44%. A candidate needs 60% to win the endorsement. At that point, Maye Quade decided she had to leave for the hospital, Walstad said, and asked Emmerich if he would be willing to suspend the convention and go to a primary. 

Emmerich said in a statement that he told Maye Quade he would get back to her; Walstad says Emmerich didn’t respond. Maye Quade then left for the hospital.

Emmerich said he would have agreed to suspend the convention if Maye Quade or any delegates formally asked, but nobody made the request.

Nancy Stroessner, Senate District 56 Party Chair, made similar arguments in a statement to the Reformer. Postponing the endorsement would have required a motion from a delegate, then a vote by the convention, she said.

“When Erin ultimately requested to withdraw from the endorsement process, we did not second-guess her decision. Plus, for reasons of fairness, our convention chairs cannot unilaterally close or delay the endorsement process,” Stroessner said.

Walstad said a postponement vote would require agreement by two-thirds of delegates, and Maye Quade’s campaign wasn’t confident they could reach that threshold without Emmerich’s public support.

Once Maye Quade withdrew, delegates had to vote to endorse Emmerich or for no endorsement.

Candidates aren’t required to be at the convention, but talking with delegates can help them secure the endorsement. Walstad said that factored into Maye Quade’s decision to withdraw.

“She didn’t feel it was going to be a fair representation of the endorsing process, to have her on the ballot without her being around to help influence delegates,” he said.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.