State senate candidate delivers convention speech while in labor, gives birth hours later

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  • Minnesota state senate candidate Erin Maye Quade participated in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention while in labor.
  • Maye Quade was eventually forced to withdraw from the nomination process and gave birth at a hospital hours later.
  • Although she didn’t win the DFL endorsement, Maye Quade could still run in the primary.

A Minnesota state senate candidate delivered a convention speech while in labor on Saturday. And she kept going until she was rushed to the hospital to give birth hours later.

Erin Maye Quade, who attended the convention in hopes of becoming Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s nominee, began having contractions around 2 a.m. Saturday, her campaign manager Mitchell Walstad said.

Maye Quade’s campaign eventually convinced the convention organizers to move up the DFL endorsement by a few hours, Walstad explained. Maye Quade completed her speech and stayed for the following Q&A with other candidates as well as the first ballot vote but eventually needed to withdraw from the nomination procedure when medical attention was necessary.

“I didn’t know if she was going to make it to the convention at all [at first],” Walstad told USA TODAY. “We kept putting her into our campaign room to let her have contractions privately, and then bring her out to talk for 10 or 15 minutes if she possibly could.”

Video of the convention posted to Twitter on Saturday gives a glimpse of Maye Quade’s speech. In one moment, the candidate pauses for a contraction while the audience cheers.

“So believe me when I tell you, this is our moment to build our future together,” Maye Quade says in the video. 

Before the results of the first round of balloting came in, Walstad said that Maye Quade “had reached her limit” and asked her opponent, Justin Emmerich, if they could suspend endorsing and go to a primary election. Emmerich “did not answer affirmatively or negatively,” Walstad said.

Neither Emmerich nor Maye Quade won outright during the first round of balloting, but Maye Quade then had to go to the hospital. In her absence, Maye Quade’s name did not appear on the second ballot. It then became a vote between Emmerich and a “no endorsement” option, Walstad said, adding that the chair “specifically encouraged an endorsement.”

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“When Erin ultimately requested to withdraw from the endorsement process, we did not second-guess her decision,” read a statement by the Senate District 56 DFL Leadership, sent to USA TODAY by Senate District 56 Party Chair Nancy Stroessner. The statement also noted “for reasons of fairness, our convention chairs cannot unilaterally close or delay the endorsement process” and that no formal motion for postponing the endorsement was made.

In a statement issued on Monday, Emmerich said that he “readily agreed” to accommodations on Saturday and that “had there been a formal request from Erin or any of the delegates to suspend the convention in order to hold it at a later date I would have agreed, however, no such request or motion was made.”

Emmerich eventually won the DFL endorsement on the second ballot. While Maye Quade had to withdraw from the nominating process, she has not withdrawn from the campaign, Walstad said.

Maye Quade hasn’t decided about running in the primary yet.

An Instagram post by Maye Quade’s wife, Alyse, confirmed their daughter, Harriet “Hattie” Blake, was delivered at around 2 a.m. Sunday. Both Maye Quade and Hattie are doing well, Walstad said.

“Mom did awesome, even in the moments that got a little intense, and especially when it came to pushing baby girl out… I’ll never look at my wife the same again, she is so powerful,” Alyse Maye Quade wrote. “We’re enamored and in love, and can’t wait to get to know [Hattie] more.”

Maye Quade previous served as a Minnesota State Representative from 2017 to 2019, and was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. If elected as a state senator, Maye Quade would become both the first Black woman and first out lesbian to serve in the Minnesota Senate, according to her campaign website.

With increased attention to Maye Quade’s story and an outcry on social media, supporters stress that the candidate never should have been put in the position to participate in the convention while in labor on Saturday.

“I’m inspired by Erin and the strength I saw – and I’m also pissed off that she had to even consider this in the first place,” said Walstad. “There’s certainly an important story to be told about how women are treated here and the expectations that are placed upon them.”

Clare Oumou Verbeten, a DFL-endorsed state senate candidate for a different Minnesota district, also shared her thoughts on social media Sunday.

“Thinking of my sister @ErinMayeQuade who went into labor during her convention yesterday, literally experiencing contractions during her speech,” Verbeten wrote on Twitter.

“Hurts to see this very public display of a Black woman pushing through pain, especially when the blatant disregard and dismissal of our pain has led to alarming rates of us dying during childbirth,” she continued. “Black women are always expected to be so strong. We deserve tenderness, care and rest. Get some rest, sis. Congrats on becoming a mama.”

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