#833 – Dick Bernard: The 2014 Minnesota Precinct Caucuses Feb 4.

Comments follow. Note also the Responses tab for additional comments.
To find your own Precinct Caucus location in Minnesota, click here.
In my state, Minnesota, the evening of Tues Feb. 4, it is Precinct Caucus night for Republicans and Democrats. In my Senate District, the Precinct Caucus will be at the local Tartan High School in Oakdale, and last night I was there with a few others to do the “walk through” – where the rooms are, rest rooms, cafeteria, auditorium, etc. It is a routine kind of exercise – somebody has to organize these caucuses, and they do need organization, but that kind of pre-work is noticed by hardly anyone.
Yet, the seeming lowly Precinct Caucus is arguably the single most important political meeting for all political parties leading to the General Election in early November every second year. It is at these caucuses that persons propose resolutions to help the parties determine their positions on numerous issues, and those who wish run for and are elected to be delegates to a larger political gathering in a few weeks, where candidates for local and state office come to make their pitch. (Usually there are more positions open for delegate than there are candidates interested in running for the privilege of attending another meeting; but, this is the first, essential building block of the political process.)
At the District level, the process continues, as delegates run for and are elected to the State Conventions. Most of these delegates have to run the gauntlet of seeking the office. Others, such as current office holders, as the Governor, have paid their dues and are automatically delegates.
But all of it, including who will be endorsed by the party structure as candidates some months from now, begins with that lowly Precinct Caucus.
Here’s a primer, for my party (click on Precinct Caucus tab). Doubtless, there is a similar primer for the folks “across the aisle”. (Somebody mentioned last night that the Republicans had wanted to rent the same venue in which we are meeting, but we had reserved before them…even where to have a meeting has its competitive aspects, I guess.)
I am one of those unusual creatures that as a matter of routine goes to the caucus and always agrees to be a delegate to the next level, at least.
It takes time, and the meetings are usually not world-class in excitement – say, Super Bowl – but they are far more important than any Super Bowl.
(The singular “excitement” exception, in my memory, was the 2008 Caucus at Oak-Land Junior High School, where THE issue was the preference poll for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for President. That night we were in a caucus-related traffic jam nearly a mile west on I-94, and I ultimately had to walk a half mile to the caucus location to simply have the opportunity to scribble a name on a piece of paper giving Presidential preference. (I chose Hillary that time, solely because I thought she had more relevant experience than then Sen. Obama. Now he’s nearly six years our President, and in my opinion an outstanding one. But, it was at those caucuses where he truly began his run for the White House.)
Normally in theses posts I include photographs.
I don’t have any photographs of Precinct Caucuses: they’re usually a few people sitting in a classroom passing resolutions. Paint drying is about as visually exciting. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Caucuses are absolutely crucial to the functioning of our democracy, regardless of party.
Look back at this space in a couple of weeks and I’ll have some photos I took Tuesday night, February 4, 2014….
The off-year caucuses (this year is one of those) are usually most lightly attended despite (my opinion) being the most important, since out of them ultimately are selected the candidates who stand for legislature, Congress, the U.S. Senate etc.
Related Posts: here and here.
(note also additional comments added directly to the post, below)
from Fred D:
I think for me, a transplant to MN 9 years ago, going to the first caucus was the hardest as I really didn’t know what to expect. But I felt like I was in on the ground floor of something. I remember meeting [to-be Minnesota legislators] for the first time. [Caucus] was a way to feel engaged.

2 replies
  1. JoAnn Ward
    JoAnn Ward says:

    Thank you, Dick for this insight and the encouragement. Caucus night is little known and even less understood, but it is not complicated! The links are very helpful, and I hope everyone will take the few minutes to read, and then watch the videos.
    Neighbors gathering to share a conversation about their vision and hopes for the future, and fulfill the simple structure to accomplish those goals.
    Looking forward to seeing my neighbors on Feb. 4!


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