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Walz, Davis to speak Saturday

WORTHINGTON -- King Turkey Day's tradition of politics will continue this year.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and challenger Brian Davis will serve as co-speakers for this year's festival, with remarks to begin at 1 p.m. at the intersection of 10th Street and Fourth Avenue.

It's believed to be the first time rivals for the same political office will share the Turkey Day podium. According to King Turkey Day President Paul Larson, the election season was a key factor in securing this year's speakers.

"Usually Turkey Day has a tradition of a person already in office speaking, and Tim expressed an interest in speaking in Worthington," Larson said. "We knew this is a big political year, and we felt we should have a Democrat and Republican both speaking."

Walz, a Democrat from Mankato, is an educator who surged in November 2006 to a victory over longtime Republican incumbent Gil Gutknecht. He serves the Minnesota's First District on three House committees -- Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure and Veterans Affairs. He also is one of nine House members to serve on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and was the president of the Democratic Freshman Class.

Walz enlisted in the Army National Guard at the young age of 17, and retired 24 years later as Command Sergeant Major. Before retiring, Walz served overseas with his battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress.

Davis, who on Tuesday turned back state senator Dick Day in the Republican primary, has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and worked in nuclear energy before going to medical school. He is now a Mayo Clinic physician in Rochester and was the GOP-endorsed candidate in the primary election against Day.

Larson said the candidates will not debate each other Saturday and have been asked to keep their presentations cordial.

"Turkey Day is a fun event, and our speakers are here to promote Turkey Day and to introduce themselves to the people of Worthington," Larson said.

Davis will speak first Saturday afternoon, and will be immediately followed by Walz.