By Seth Rowe
Sun Sailor Newspapers
Voters who would like an opportunity to shape political parties at a grassroots level may do so during upcoming precinct caucuses.
While the caucuses receive less attention during non-presidential election years, participants may still become involved in shaping the platforms of parties or seek election to party positions.
A straw poll for the governor’s race this year will take place. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, is the incumbent in the governor’s race. U.S. Sen. Al Franken will also run for re-election.
The straw poll is not binding on the parties but provides an snapshot of who the party base supports in selected statewide races. The party will endorse candidates at a later convention.
Voters who attend the caucuses will elect precinct officers during the event. These officers will coordinate political meetings, assist with campaign efforts and otherwise lead local party business.
Caucus attendees will also elect delegates to political conventions. The delegates will attend either district or county conventions, where they will then in turn elect delegates from within their ranks to congressional and state conventions. Those delegates will then endorse candidates for offices like governor or Congress.
Much of the time at precinct caucuses is devoted to voting on proposed resolutions. Attendees may ask that fellow voters at the caucuses support their ideas or goals. Resolutions that gain majority support at the caucuses are raised at future conventions for potential inclusion into the party’s platform.
All Minnesota parties with major party status must hold caucuses during statewide election years, including 2014. Parties with minor party status are not required to conduct caucuses but may do so if their organizers wish.
Participants must be eligible to vote in this year’s Nov. 4 general election. They must live in the precinct of the caucus and “be in general agreement with the principles of the political party,” according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. Unlike some states, Minnesota does not have an official party registration process.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, or DFL Party, Republican Party and Independence Party all have major party status in Minnesota. Caucuses for all three parties are scheduled 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4. Locations for all major party caucuses are available through a search at caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us.
The Independence Party also offers a live, online caucus beginning at the same time. Interested people who are busy Feb. 4 may participate in the online caucus through Tuesday, Feb. 18. Visit mnip.org for more information.
Minor parties listed on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website are the Libertarian Party and the Grassroots Party.
Here are listings for locations in the greater Princeton-Milaca area.
Republican District 15A
The Great Northern Room of the Mille Lacs County Historical Society in Princeton will be the site for the townships of Greenbush and Princeton, and the city of Princeton. The rest of Mille Lacs County for Republican caucus goers will be at Milaca High School. Republican caucuses attendees in Baldwin and Blue Hill Townships will meet at the Freshwaters United Methodist Church located on Highway 169 between Princeton and Zimmerman.
Republican caucuses will conduct a straw vote for candidates to oppose Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken in the upcoming general election.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party
Princeton Middle School will be the DFL site for the city of Princeton and the townships of Baldwin, Blue Hill, Princeton and Greenbush, and the city of Princeton.
Milaca High School will be the DFL caucus site for the cities of Pease, Milaca, Foreston, and Bock and the townships of Page, Mudgett, Milo, Milaca, Hayland, Daily, and Bogus Brook.
Joel Stottrup of the Princeton Union-Eagle contributed to this report.