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What’s With This DFL Thing? A Brief Minnesota History Lesson

If you’re among the 98.3 percent of the U.S. population that resides outside The North Star State, you’re probably confused by the DFL label you keep seeing

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jan 12, 2009

If you’re among the 98.3 percent of the U.S. population that resides outside The North Star State, you’re probably confused by the “DFL” label you keep seeing alongside Al Franken’s name. (You also probably didn’t know that Minnesota was The North Star State — isn’t this educational?) So let me give you a quick history lesson to put your confusion to rest.

In 1944, Minnesota’s Democratic Party and Farmer-Labor Party merged to form the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). Since then, Minnesota has not had a Democratic Party, although the DFL is 100 percent aligned with national Democrats.

And if you’re still not convinced that the DFL is more than some sort of fringe party, I should note that it’s run three major candidates for president: Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Walter Mondale. Humphrey and Mondale each won the Democratic nomination for the presidency, FL suffix notwithstanding.

Now it appears that both U.S. Senators from Minnesota will be DFLers, as Al Franken seems all but assured to join Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the upper chamber.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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