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Besides rallying support, some caucus-goers will also be collecting funds for local political units. (Bulletin file photo)

Caucus night: Minnesota’s great political get-together

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The engine driving the machinery of politics in Minnesota roars back to life tonight in south Washington County.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the party faithful – for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and Greens – will convene in and around Woodbury, and begin organizing an effort that will kick off the process that culminates on Election Day in November.

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“This is where it all starts,” said Alberder Gillespie, chairwoman of the Senate District 53 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “It starts at the caucus.”

Traditionally, the largest turnouts will be for the DFL and the GOP.

Here’s a look at what leaders from each of those parties said caucus-goers can expect.

GOP

Republicans, who will be gathering at two locations in Woodbury, will have more to tackle on caucus night than Democrats.

Joe Salmon, chairman of the Senate District 53 Republicans, said the highest order of business will be to elect delegates for the upcoming district endorsing convention. It will be those delegates who cast votes in support of GOP candidates running for the House and Senate.

Republican caucus-goers will also participate in a straw poll for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. And as always, activists at the event will draw up and vote on resolutions that will be forwarded on in hopes of amending the state party’s platform.

Salmon said the top priority this year for Republicans will be recapturing the Minnesota House after Democrats seized power of both legislative chambers in 2012.

House District 53A Republicans will caucus at Woodbury High School, while HD 53B Republicans will caucus at East Ridge High School.

DFL

Since Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken face no intra-party competition for the endorsement in their re-election efforts, there will be no straw polling at DFL caucuses, but there will be more than enough to keep Democratic activists busy.

At the Senate District 53 DFL caucus – being held at Tartan High School – attendees will elect delegates to the party’s March 29 endorsing convention.

In addition to collecting resolutions for the Democratic state platform, caucus-goers at Tartan will be talking issues, Gillespie said.

She expects gun control and potential bullying legislation to receive a spirited debate, as well as Minnesota’s minimum wage – an issue that promises to garner heavy attention this year at the Capitol.

Other parties

Democrats and Republicans won’t be the only ones caucusing on Feb. 4.

Here’s a list of other parties and their nearest caucus locations:

— Green Party: White Bear Lake City Hall, 4701 Highway 61, White Bear Lake

— Independence Party: Sweeney’s Saloon, 96 Dale St. N., St. Paul

— Libertarian Party: O’Gara’s Bar, 164 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul

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Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
(715) 426-1072
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