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Kerry cancels Spokane convention speech

More than a thousand Democrats gathering this weekend in Spokane for their state convention will hear plenty of speeches from politicians, but former presidential candidate John Kerry will not give one of them.

Sen. Kerry, one of the early endorsers of Democratic nominee Barack Obama, was the planned keynote speaker for Saturday’s session but canceled his appearance because of a scheduling conflict, party officials announced Thursday.

Speaking in his place will be U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, also an Obama supporter.

Delegates – a mix of longtime party activists and newcomers drawn into the political process by precinct caucuses and county conventions – also will hear from Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray tonight at the convention’s banquet. They will hear a range of candidates for federal, state and local office, as the event continues through Saturday evening.

The presidential nomination is decided, but convention-goers still must select some delegates for Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to attend the national convention in Denver in August.

They also will adopt a platform, or statement of principles, in their Saturday session.

Kerry’s cancellation Thursday was somewhat reminiscent of the Washington Republican Convention two weeks ago, which also was held at the Spokane Convention Center.

Kerry was forced to cancel his trip to Spokane to attend a funeral for a soldier killed in Iraq, a state party spokesman said. The keynote speaker for the Washington Republican Convention banquet, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, canceled his appearance to attend the welcome home celebration for an Idaho National Guard unit that had been serving in Iraq.