Monday, April 22nd, 2024 Church Directory

Caucuses mark beginning of grassroots political process

Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series of articles to inform our readers of the process to becoming involved with the local political process.

While the 2024 general election is still over eight months into the future on November 5, the road to that decisive day is paved with numerous meetings and conventions that will determine which candidates appear on the ballot.

The first step in the political process for many residents is the precinct caucus, otherwise known as initial meetings of the political parties in Minnesota. 

This year, those caucuses will be held on February 27 at 7 p.m. at various locations around the state.  Each political party may have different rules and procedures for holding their caucuses; therefore, citizens should check with their local preferred party for any answers to specific questions.  However, the Patriot contacted local party officials and invited them to sit down and discuss this year’s process and priorities.

According to the MN Secretary of State website, a precinct caucus is a local meeting where three things will happen: volunteers will be chosen to help organize local political activities; issues and ideas will be discussed and debated for inclusion into party platforms; and delegates will be chosen to represent their local precinct at future conventions where candidates will be endorsed for inclusion on the general election ballot.

It is important to note that Presidential preference voting will not take place this year at the caucuses, but instead will happen on “Super Tuesday”, March 5, during the Minnesota Presidential Primary Election.

The MN Secretary of State website has a precinct finder, where a citizen can enter their address and find the exact location of their precinct caucus: https://caucusfinder.sos.mn.gov/.

Here’s a look at Minnesota’s three political parties who meet the definition for “Major Party” status, their caucus locations and possible caucus discussion priorities.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Information provided by House District 27A DFL Chair Nancy Hassett and Kathy Geary, Board of Directors.

The Democrats of House District 27A will be meeting either at the Big Lake Middle School (Big Lake City and Twp. and Orrock Twp. voting precincts) or Becker High School (Becker City and Twp., Clear Lake City and Twp., Palmer Twp., Santiago Twp. precincts and Haven Township Precinct #2).

To participate in the caucus, attendees will be asked to sign-in and this serves as confirmation that they agree with the principles of the Democratic party and they will then be seated within their local precinct.

“I think the biggest message is that we have a two party system and if people are unhappy with how things are going, then there are ways to make changes,” Hassett says.  “It’s time to get involved and it all starts at the precinct caucus level.”

Hassett and Geary listed issues such as protecting women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights (especially in schools), and infrastructure as ones likely to receive attention at the DFL caucus.

“One of the items that also usually comes up is the Citizens United decision,” Geary says.  “It comes up every year because people would like to revisit how campaigns are financed.”

Participants will be able to submit their resolutions for consideration and the ones that receive a simple majority vote will get forwarded to the District 27 Convention and ultimately to the state DFL for consideration at that convention.

Both Geary and Hassett are anticipating a strong turnout for this year’s caucuses, as they see people getting more involved with the issues that matter to them.  They say it is also important for people to show up, as the recent re-districting process has changed the make-up of the district.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet other Democrats in their neighborhood,” says Hassett.  

Questions about the DFL caucus can be directed to Hassett at nancylhassettdfl@gmail.com.

Republican Party of Minnesota

Information provided by House District 27A GOP Chair Kristi Faul and Amy Vrudny, long-time volunteer and event planner.

The Republicans of House District 27A will be meeting either at the Big Lake High School (all Big Lake precincts) or the Becker Intermediate School (Becker, Clear Lake, Palmer, Santiago, Orrock precincts and Haven Township Precinct #2).

To participate in the caucus, attendees will be asked to pledge that they agree with the principles of the Republican party and they will then be seated within their local precinct.

“The caucuses are important because it is the beginning of the grassroots process to get involved,” Faul says.  “It’s also important for people to do both the caucus and the primary election this year because they are totally different opportunities.”

Faul and Vrudny listed issues such as local control, smaller government, fiscal responsibility and public safety as ones likely to receive attention at the GOP caucus.

“I see this as an opportunity to contribute to society as an ordinary citizen,” Vrudny adds.  “Most elected officials start out by learning the process at their local caucuses.”

Participants will begin the process of gathering and organizing at the local level, and will review and discuss the party platform so changes can be considered.

Both Faul and Vrudny are hopeful for a large turnout for this year’s caucuses, as they see persistent inflation and a struggling economy as reasons why people are choosing to get involved.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to get involved and have discussions with like-minded people,” says Faul.  Questions about the GOP caucus can be directed to Faul at kristin.faul@gmail.com.

Legal Marijuana Now Party

The Legal Marijuana Now Party has Major Party status within Minnesota and their organization will be having a statewide zoom caucus meeting at 7 p.m.

According to party representative Dennis Schuller, there will also be an in-person event held at the same time in Bloomington, MN.  People interested in attending the in-person event can contact admin@legalmarijuananowmn.org for the location or with other questions.

People can access the zoom meeting via this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83629766881.  The meeting ID is 836 2976 6881 and the passcode: weed.

“We are focused on changing the federal prohibition of marijuana,” Schuller says.  “That will be our main discussion.”

Clearwater

For Patriot readers in the Clearwater area, the Republicans in House District 29A will be meeting at Annandale High School, while the Democrats will be at Annandale Middle School.  In House District 13A, both parties will meet at Kimball High School.

A reminder to check the SOS Caucus Finder for up to date information.