The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.
And it’s auditor day, and maybe the lieutenant governor endorsement. The filing deadline is Tuesday, so Erin Murphy will have to announce quickly if she hasn’t already. I’m not there today and trying to tune in to the livestream, but so far it isn’t working. While we’re waiting, I’d like to handicap the auditor race: no idea. No information to go on at all. When I mentioned it to anybody, no one was even thinking about it with governor sucking up all the attention. Might be well to remember that governors Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson held the state auditor position. Rebecca Otto didn’t get endorsed, but being auditor made her an immediate serious candidate for governor or whatever else she should choose to run for. So even aside from the actual job, it matters.
by Eric Ferguson on February 28, 2014 · 2 comments
The DFL outdrew the state Republicans at the Feb. 4th caucuses, roughly 14,500 to 14,100. That’s actually a big deal. If you’re shrugging at that because there are more Democrats, so they should have a bit bigger turnout, not really. Yes, there are more Democrats, but what draws people to caucuses are contests for public office. Caucuses, at least on the DFL side, also elect precinct officers and start the process of building the party platform — and I’m a big believer in face time for building a strong grassroots, as are apparently other people who turned out without a high profile contest. Still, let’s admit it, attendance tends to rise or fall with the contests for public office. That’s why the MNGOP should have had much higher turnout.
The DFL currently holds every statewide office, and all are up for reelection except Amy Klobuchar’s US Senate seat. The incumbents are running unopposed except Mark Ritchie, who isn’t seeking reelection as secretary of state. So we do have a contest between two strong campaigns for state reps. Steve Simon and Debra Hilstrom, and they did their best to get supporters to turn out. But still, that’s just secretary of state, which matters when a partisan SOS is trying to interfere with voting instead facilitating it, but it doesn’t get many people excited. Besides, the GOP has a contest for SOS too, and for everything else, including governor and US Senator.
As if that weren’t enough, Republicans have more contests for Congress, and I’m presuming they have more State House races since they have a minority of seats going in. Now add in that the non-presidential party is generally more motivated in midterm elections, and everything points to much higher turnout for the MNGOP. So even for the DFL to be close is really surprising.
That headline is true for all parties since the state sets the date, a date that’s too early if I may editorialize, and this is a blog, so … why can’t caucuses go back to March? OK, editorializing done. What follows might not apply to parties other than the DFL. Like I mention when I think there might be need for disclosure that my blogging is separate from being a local party chair, I’m a local party chair. Specifically Senate District 63. Which mean planning the caucuses and SD63 convention is my problem, the necessary but less fun part of the job.
If you happen to live in my senate district, and presumably that’s true of one in 67 of you (to resolve the quizzical looks, Minnesota has 67 state senate districts), you can get caucus location information now on the SD63 web site.
The state DFL has made a video showing what happens at a precinct caucus. The actors are grassroots DFLers who did a terrific job. If you think I’m saying that because I know a bunch of them and they might read this, um, OK, maybe partly I suppose. But really, this explains the process well:
The video used the phrase “organizing unit”, which I think can use some more explanation, albeit at the risk of going into more detail than strictly necessary, but here goes.
Iowa isn’t the only state with caucuses. Minnesota’s precinct caucuses are February 7. Sign-in starts at 6:30, convene at 7:00. This first video was produced by the DFL of SD42. It doesn’t go through the details of what goes on at a caucus, but it explains the why reasonably well, and for those who have never been to a caucus, hopefully this will make it seem worthwhile and inviting.
This video was produced by the Al Franken campaign for 2008. It’s a good explanation of the process for electing delegates. Many caucuses have few enough people seeking to be delegates that the first scenario in the video, where everyone gets to go, is common. The subcaucusing procedure is more frequently used at conventions. A narrator mentions that there’s other business before the delegate selection begins but skips over particulars. That’s actually pretty important business, because caucuses are also when we start electing local party officials and start building the party platform. If you want to become an “insider”, raise your hand when it comes time to elect the precinct chair. There’s a fair chance you’ll be unopposed and just like that, you’re on your county or senate district central committee. The offering of resolutions is a chance to discuss issues and turn your position into the party’s position.
Above all, this is when we meet other DFLers in our precinct and build the grassroots.
“I think what makes us different and what makes us in some ways when we have good leadership, much more ruthless and much tougher than any other country in the world, is we don’t send soldiers and sailors and Marines and airmen to war.
We send our children. We send our fathers. We send our brothers and sisters. We send our mothers, and therefore there’s a preciousness to this decision, unlike any other country I know of. I think our position has been historic.”
So Newt “Is My Wife Well Enough To Divorce Yet?” Ginghrich – a former college history professor – thinks it’s only Americans on the battlefield that have children, fathers, brothers, sisters & mothers??!?
Plenty of talk coming from candidates after last night’s precinct caucuses…first up, Tom Rukavina:
“I’m humbled and energized by last night’s results,” said Rukavina. “This goes to show that a little money and a big, refreshingly honest message has made me a contender at the DFL convention.”
The campaign also secured at least three of the very first elected delegates to the state convention, by sweeping yesterday’s Grant County convention. “The endorsement is really about gaining the support of state convention delegates,” said Rukavina. “I’m off to a great start.”
“When I entered this race last November, few people gave me a chance. Last night, we exceeded expectations, and I’m just getting going.”
And Paul Thissen:
“I am pleased with our finish in last night’s straw poll. I am grateful for the tremendous support I received from DFL caucus attendees across Minnesota and pleased that my message of a fresh vision and new ideas is reaching voters in every corner of the state. Many potential DFL Delegates remain undecided and continue to examine the candidates’ record and vision as we proceed with this endorsement process. The race remains wide-open and I look forward to running full steam ahead in the upcoming weeks and sharing my vision for a better Minnesota.”
And Tom Bakk:
My campaign has continued to build momentum throughout the last year. We have worked hard to gain the support of Minnesotans across the state and from Hallock to Houston County we are seeing the results. I have been endorsed by the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council, and the powerhouse Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council. I am proud to have the support of 18 superdelegates and raised money to end the year with the most cash on hand of any candidate.
The straw poll results reinforced what we have known for months. There will be a number of strong candidates vying for the DFL endorsement at the convention in April.
We will continue to travel the state and talk to delegates to get out the message that I am the strongest candidate on jobs and the economy, I am a proven leader, and I am the candidate best suited to win the General Election in November.