GRAND FORKS – North Dakota Democrats expect former President Bill Clinton to draw a crowd here this weekend, and party officials are busily finalizing preparations before the big event.
Clinton is scheduled to address the Democratic-NPL’s annual convention at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alerus Center.
Members of the public, regardless of political ties, can attend the speech for free but are advised to reserve admission tickets in advance.
“We’re prepared for about 8,000 to 10,000,” Democratic-NPL spokeswoman Alison Kelly said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 2,500 people had already reserved tickets, and the party is expecting a sizable walk-in crowd, too, Kelly said.
Reservations can be made online at www.demnpl.com. After providing some basic contact information, guests will receive a printable e-ticket, which they must bring with them in order to enter the arena.
Depending on seating availability, admission tickets should also be available the day-of.
Doors will open to the public at 11:30, just after the Democrats break for lunch following morning business for the party convention.
While Clinton is in town, he’s also touring Grand Forks to get a look at the city’s flood protection efforts since the devastating flood in 1997.
Saturday morning, Clinton will receive the keys to the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks at a public ceremony city officials are holding to show thanks for Clinton’s attentiveness after the flood disaster.
Afterward, Clinton will dine with Democratic supporters at a private fundraising luncheon, before he addresses the party convention.
The luncheon costs $200 a seat for an advanced ticket, and a limited number of “host tickets” are also available for $1,000 a seat, which includes entrance to a private reception, the luncheon and a photo op with the former president.
Kelly said proceeds will go to help the party’s campaign efforts this year, when several hotly contested state and federal seats are at stake.
North Dakota Democrats have said they hope Clinton’s appearance here will energize the state’s minority party and build momentum for this year’s races
The gathering should be an amicable affair, since none of the Democratic candidates face contested bids for the party’s nomination.
More than 1,000 delegates have pre-registered for the Dem-NPL convention, and several more plan to turn in their paperwork at the arena, Kelly said.
Here are the Democratic candidates seeking the party endorsement this week:
- U.S. Senate: Heidi Heitkamp
- U.S. House: Pam Gulleson
- Governor: Ryan Taylor
- Lieutenant governor: Yet unknown, but Taylor will reveal his running mate today in Fargo.
- State insurance commissioner: Tom Potter
- State treasurer: Ross Mushik
- State auditor: None announced.
- Public Service Commissioner: Brad Crabtree
- Superintendent of public instruction (non-partisan): Max Laird
North Dakota Republicans will gather for their nominating convention March 30 through April 1 in Bismarck. The party will decide contested nominations for, at least, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.