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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: GOP, DFL state conventions this weekend

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Republicans open their state party convention this morning (10am) in Rochester, and this afternoon or evening they'll choose a candidate for U-S Senate from a field of four major contenders.  Talk around the hallways is that state Senator Julianne Ortman is in the lead.  She says she's "definitely the best matchup for Al Franken." State Representative Jim Abeler placed third in the precinct caucus straw poll in February, and businessman Mike McFadden and Saint Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg are also in the running for the Republican Party endorsement for U-S Senate.  

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Republicans are set to endorse a candidate for U-S Senate later today (p-m) at their state convention in Rochester.  Meanwhile, six hopefuls for the G-O-P nod for Minnesota governor are working the delegates before the endorsement vote set for Saturday.  Former State Rep Marty Seifert from Marshall was in first place at February's precinct caucuses, and at the caucuses four years ago.  State Senator Dave Thompson was only slightly behind Seifert in the straw poll.  Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Wayzata businessman Scott Honour and State Representative Kurt Zellers were significantly further back.

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Minnesota Democrats are arriving in Duluth today for their state convention this weekend at the DECC.  There's far less drama for the D-F-L with mostly incumbents on the statewide ticket.  Party Chairman Ken Martin says the 14-hundred delegates are enthusiastic about this year's convention.  He says the DFL is in a great position to win re-election "not just because of the field on the other side, but frankly because we have in both Governor Dayton and Senator Franken two people who've done a great job of standing up for the middle class and Minnesotans. "  State Representatives Deb Hilstrom and Steve Simon are competing for the D-F-L nomination for secretary of state.  Martin says both candidates have pledged to abide by the party's endorsement. 

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Medical marijuana advocates are disappointed the bill signed by Governor Dayton does not include patients with a number of medical conditions.  They complain that only five-thousand people will qualify for the state's program.  Heather Azzi of Minnesotans For Compassionate Care says supporters are holding a news conference today in St.Paul (Fri11am).  She says they're going to deliver a bouquet of flowers to the governor's residence, one flower to represent every thousand patients in Minnesota who have been left behind by the bill that was ultimately signed...33-thousand patients were left behind.  Azzi says the law leaves out Minnesotans with intractable pain, nausea, wasting and post-traumatic stress disorder.  She adds that they will be back at the legislature next year trying to expand the program. 

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Congressman Rick Nolan is sponsoring a number of veteran roundtables across north-eastern and north-central Minnesota starting next week.  With so many urgent issues concerning the VA and veterans across the state, Nolan is encouraging veterans to take part in the roundtables.  Nolan said he would like to return to Washington prepared to address the concerns of the 60-thousand veterans living in Minnesota's 8th District -  whether it be wait times at the VA, unsubstantial benefits, or issues with access to care in rural areas.  Roundtables will be held in Duluth, Little Falls, Brainerd, Center City and Hibbing.  Exact times and locations can be found on Nolan's congressional website.  

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A Duluth woman has been sentenced to more than ten years in prison for her role in the stabbing death of a local landlord.  Thirty-two-year-old Joella Tucker pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the December 2012 killing of 54-year-old Kevin Tyman.  Tucker's co-defendent - Raymond Weeks - was sentenced to 30 years for stabbing Tyman.  Tucker testified that she saw Weeks stab Tyman in the abdomen.  He died in a Duluth hospital hours after a stab wound that lacerated his liver.    

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