Tag Archives: Caucus

DFL Caucus vs. Primary

A fellow DFLer was complaining to me about the caucues. Complaining that it is an outdated process and that only the most active and liberal people go to the caucuses. That it forces people uncomfortable in meeting situations from being able to participate, and keeps people with children and busy lives from having a say. Those factors end up creating in his words, a “skewed” platform and candidate endorsement process based on a small number of people who can participate. I agreed with him. In fact the whole reason I started getting involved was because I wanted to inject a voice of reason and common-sense to a body I feel often ends up tripped up on an aggressive ideology set in the past.

But I continued thinking about it and realized that the exact same people that go to the caucuses now, and eventually go to the convention to determine the platform and endorsements, will be the same ones going to a convention if we have a primary system determining the candidate delegate balance.

I don’t know exactly how delegates are elected in a primary process, but I’m guessing it is a meeting. And I am guessing that meeting would consist of the usual suspects and the same basic process.

So rather than complain about the process, here are a couple benefits I see over a primary. The people that commit to go to a caucus, as opposed to staying home and watching “Lost” are generally dedicated enough to continue through the process, and are far more likely to stay involved in the party outside of the election season. It is during the off years that fundraising and organization needs to be running on all cylinders to ensure adequate resources are available during the election year.

In the caucus system, the candidates are far more likely to interact with potential delegates personally. I’ve seen all of the candidates multiple times, and they usually come to me, I don’t have to go far to see them. In a primary system, I suspect much more time is spent on image making and commercials. Name recognition alone doesn’t get a candidate enough among a knowledgeable base. Mark Dayton’s decision not to be on the straw poll ballot proved that Tuesday. He was afraid a poor showing would hurt his campaign. If it were a primary, he would likely have won based on name recognition alone.

The caucus system allows anybody who wants to be involved the access to be involved. I admitted above I don’t know how delegates are chosen in states that have primary systems, but if you showed up at my caucus, you could be a delegate. Additionally, you get to meet fellow DFLers. In my really “red” district, knowing somebody else who has the same ideals you have is important to keeping your sanity.

I like the caucuses.

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The Farmington Caucus

I convened the Farmington, Castle Rock, Empire and Eureka caucuses last night. Between the nine precincts, only 29 people attended. The voting results were:

Rybak – 7 – 24.1%
Kelliher – 6 – 20.7%
Marty – 5 – 17.2%
Thissen – 5 – 17.2%
Uncommitted – 3 – 10.3%
Bakk – 1 – 3.4%
Entenza – 1 – 3.4%
Gaertner – 1 – 3.4%
Kelley – 0
Montez – 0
Rukavina – 0
Savior – 0

I was surprised how low the turnout was, but I am not surprised by the results for the most part. Statewide, I expected the race to be between Rybak and Kelliher, and that proved true.

Statewide numbers with almost 80% reporting:

Rybak – 21.9%
Kelliher – 20.1%
Uncommitted – 14.6%
Marty – 9.6%
Rukavina – 7.2%
Thissen – 7.2%
Entenza – 6.7%
Bakk – 6.2%
Kelley – 4..2%
Gaertner – 2.1%

A couple of negative observations:

Entenza’s number seemed surprisingly low. I expected him to finish third or forth. That looks bad. Now I see why Dayton didn’t include his name in the straw poll.

Rukavina put out a statement saying he was humbled by the support. I assume he felt humbled in a positive way. Finishing in the middle of the pack with 7% does not seem like it should be humbling to me.

Gaertner has decided to run in the primary. Why?

Thissen’s results were disappointing. I expected Paul to compete with Entenza for third or forth.

As much as I like Steve Kelley, the endorsement will not fall into his lap with this group of candidates like it almost did a few years ago. Kelley should consider dropping out too.

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

Tomorrow is caucus night.  To get you prepared, here is a repost of a December post.  I’ll be at Farmington High School I hope to see you there.   (By the way if you can volunteer to help set up, show up a little early.)

I wrote the following guide to what happens at the caucuses after writing the previous post about people being scared away from the caucuses. I’m one of those people that like to know what is going to happen. It makes me more comfortable. I think there are a lot of people who stay away from the caucuses because they don’t know what is going to happen. Here is a little how to caucus guide. If you ar like me and need a little reinforcement, maybe you will show up this year…

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

The 2010 DFL precinct caucuses are meetings organized by the DFL to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2010 elections. Elections will be held for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Senator, State House of Representative and other local officials, as well as for U.S. Congressional seats. The caucuses are also the first step in shaping the DFL platform and policy positions.

Step 1: Find out what house district and precinct you are in.
Caucuses are usually organized by precinct within senate or county districts. The Minnesota Secretary of State website has a polling place finder, which should provide you with information about the political districts you reside in. Follow the steps by entering your zip code, followed by your address, to find out your district information. Besides telling you where you vote, it also tells you your congressional district, Minnesota senate district, house district and precinct, along with a few other districts. Your precinct is often a combination of your town with the letter “P” and a number or your for smaller towns, the name of the town. Example: Farmington P-4 is precinct 4 in Farmington.

Step 2: Find your caucus location.
After you know your house district and precinct, you can find out where your precinct caucus is. Since caucuses are organized by local DFL parties, the Secretary of State is dependent on receiving the location information from local party officials. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office is working to launch an online caucus finder, but it will not be available until late January 2010. In the meantime, you can find your caucus location by contacting your local DFL Senate District official. For instance Senate District 36 (SD36) is planning the caucuses in the SD36 area. The local leaders or the website in SD36 will provide you the information for your meeting location.

Step 3: Show up.
Once you know where to go, it is as simple as showing up. Arrive a little early to sign in. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., and the caucus is convened at 7:00. At many caucuses, multiple precincts meet in one location. Generally, you go directly to your precinct to sign in, but people or signs should direct you. There is generally a fair amount of literature to review. There is always DFL party literature, and often candidate literature. It is not uncommon for local officials or candidates to make an appearance too.

Step 4: Engage with others in your precinct as you wait to begin.
The caucus is a great place to meet neighbors who share your political view. But caucuses also are the first step in developing resolutions to be included in the DFL platform. Talk about ideas and engage others. The caucus is the first step to offer a resolution on an issue important to you. Before the close of the caucus, attendees in your precinct will vote on the issue, and if passed , will forward the resolution on to the next level of discussion. Click here to open the resolution form.

Step 5: The caucus begins.
The caucus begins with a few introductions and a couple required announcements. To begin the process, the caucus attendees elect a caucus chair, a secretary to record notes and tellers to count ballots. These positions are occasionally opened up to volunteers, then consented to by the body with a vote. Caucuses are run using parliamentary procedures to nominate and elect officials. Do not be embarrassed to ask questions if you are unfamiliar with how to phrase something — others, including the conveners and even the chair are often in the same boat.

Step 6: Elect precinct officers.
Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct. Each precinct elects a precinct chair and two precinct associate chairs. Within the DFL, at least one male and one female must be elected. For example, if a woman is elected chair, at least one associate chair should be a man, and vice versa. Precinct chair responsibilities can be very different from district to district. A key responsibility is to attend local DFL committee meetings and to help organize and increase the presence of the party through voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. Additionally, in some districts, the precinct chair is expected to raise a certain amount of money in a district. In others, it might be as simple as calling people in the precinct to remind them of a meeting or an election. Literature describing the duties will be at your precinct location.

Step 7: Elect senate district delegates.
Each precinct has a predetermined number of delegates to elect to the county or senate district convention. The caucus attendees will elect representatives to be delegates. In many districts, there are often more delegate and alternate openings than there are people willing or able to attend the convention. You don’t need to launch a massive campaign to be elected to the next level. It is important to make sure your precinct chair checks the “delegate” box on the attendance forms to ensure you are included in the rolls for the convention. Keep something in mind. After the caucuses a list of the convention attendees is often acquired by candidates. Expect calls from candidates.

Step 8: Vote in the gubernatorial straw poll.
Attendees of the caucus will be given a straw poll ballot to indicate their preference among the candidates for governor. Cast your vote before 8:00.

Step 9: Finish up.
If there are pending resolutions, finish considering the resolutions. The chair will announce the results of the straw poll and finish up with any announcements.

Step 10: Adjourn.
Finally, the caucus chair will ask for a motion to adjourn the caucus.
After the caucus there are tasks that need to be completed. Cleaning up the area is the simplest duty to help with. Reporting results and entering attendance data into the DFL database is also an important task.

Note: While many of these steps fit caucuses statewide, I did write this specifically with experience in the south metro. Feel free to forward this or repost it. Please credit MNDem.com if you do.

CD2 Central Committee Meeting – January 5, 2010

The first CD2 DFL meeting of election year 2010 was well attended.  I counted about 35 people, with a few stragglers sneaking in later.  The Central Committee Meeting on January 5th was the last meeting before the caucuses on February 2nd.  Because it was the last meeting before the caucuses, I expected there to be a lot of caucus discussion, but a majority of the discussion centered on the CD2 convention. 

The meeting started with self introductions from the entire group.  I’ve been to CD2 meetings in the past that started that way, but it isn’t a regular practice.  I’m guessing it started that way because there were a few unfamiliar faces in the crowd.

One of the unfamiliar faces was a representative from SD26.  He spoke for Jason Engbrecht.  Jason is running in a special election on January 26th to take over the seat held by Dick Day.  Dick Day abruptly quit the State Senate to become a lobbyist.  Jason will be busy, and needs all the help he can get to defeat Mike Parry.  Parry is the Republican endorsed candidate who has shown over the last couple years of “tweeting” that he will not represent Minnesota values.  Rather, Parry will promote the values held by the most extremist right-wingers in the district.  To help Jason’s campaign, the members of the CD2 DFL voted to make a nice donation to Jason’s campaign.  Good luck to Jason.

After the Engrecht representative spoke, several other candidates rose to speak about their campaign to defeat other extremist right-wing elected officials.  The first to speak was Shelley Madore.  Shelley will soon officially announce her candidacy to unseat John Kline in Washington.  Shelley will be competing with Dan Powers for the endorsement at the CD2 Convention in April.  Dan Powers spoke next.  Dan has been officially running for the last few months, but spent a lot of time organizing DFL groups for parades during the summer before making it official.

Although we will have the opportunity to see the two candidates side-by-side over the next couple months, including the SD36 DFL Meeting at 6:30 on January 14th held at B&B Pizza in Farmington, it was the first time I had been able to compare the two candidates speaking at the same time.

Shelley has been away from the political scene for a year or so, but as she strode to the front of the room, you could sense the confidence she has.  She then backed it up with a very assertive and strong introductory speech that would challenge, in terms of presentation, most of the gubernatorial candidates I have heard from.  Dan on the other hand projects the nice guy image, and he really is a nice guy.  Dan wants to be a representative for the district, something we have not had since John Kline became a member of congress.  The two candidates have different styles, and it will be an interesting ninety-some day before we have an endorsed candidate.

Among the other candidates speaking about their campaigns were, Roberta Gibbons, Mike Germain, Derrick Lindstrom, a representative of Tom Bakk, and I apologize to the final speaker because I didn’t write down his name, but he is challenging Claire Robling in SD35.

After hearing form the candidates, the topic turned to the CD2 Convention.  The committee began discussing the amount of the suggested donation to be requested of those attending the CD2 convention.  This discussion lasted nearly a half hour.  The entire context of the discussion revolved around whether to request $15 donations or $10 donations.  The convention expenses will be slightly less this year thanks to some great work by a couple members.  That combined with the adverse economic conditions many families are facing, spurred the idea to reduce the donation amount to $10, from $15, which had been the suggested donation amount during the last few conventions.

There was a lot of discussion about the importance of the donations to the district’s financial standing, contrasted by a genuine belief that maintaining an open and easy to access forum was more important.  But what I think won the day was that the $15 donation is suggested, not required, and that the district needs as much cash as possible to support candidates running in the district.

I was happy the $15 amount won out.  I have been thinking a lot about how important it is to do small dollar fundraising for our local organizations, and the $15 suggested donation really fits that model.  It allows the organization to take away a “profit” from the convention that a $10 donation wouldn’t.  Additionally, the amount of $15, make it easy for a person with a $20 bill to donate an extra $5 without much thought.  Let’s hope attendance is high.

The next meeting will be held on a Wednesday.  Meetings are generally held the second Tuesday of every month at Burnhaven Library, but on Wednesday February 10th, the Executive Committee Meeting will not only be on a different day, but it will be at a different location, Prior Lake City Hall.  Check the CD2 website for more information.

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

I wrote the following guide to what happens at the caucuses after writing the previous post about people being scared away from the caucuses.  I’m one of those people that like to know what is going to happen.  It makes me more comfortable.  I think there are a lot of people who stay away from the caucuses because they don’t know what is going to happen.  Here is a little how to caucus guide.  If that is you, maybe you will show up this year…

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

The 2010 DFL precinct caucuses are meetings organized by the DFL to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2010 elections.  Elections will be held for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Senator, State House of Representative and other local officials, as well as for U.S. Congressional seats.   The caucuses are also the first step in shaping the DFL platform and policy positions.

Step 1: Find out what house district and precinct you are in.
Caucuses are usually organized by precinct within senate or county districts.  The Minnesota Secretary of State website has a polling place finder, which should provide you with information about the political districts you reside in.  Follow the steps by entering your zip code, followed by your address, to find out your district information.  Besides telling you where you vote, it also tells you your congressional district, Minnesota senate district, house district and precinct, along with a few other districts.  Your precinct is often a combination of your town with the letter “P” and a number or your for smaller towns, the name of the town.  Example: Farmington P-4 is precinct 4 in Farmington.   

Step 2: Find your caucus location.
 After you know your house district and precinct, you can find out where your precinct caucus is.  Since caucuses are organized by local DFL parties, the Secretary of State is dependent on receiving the location information from local party officials.  Secretary of State  Mark Ritchie’s office is working to launch an online caucus finder, but it will not be available until late January 2010.  In the meantime, you can find your caucus location by contacting your local DFL Senate District official.  For instance Senate District 36 (SD36) is planning the caucuses in the SD36 area.  The local leaders or the website in SD36 will provide you the information for your meeting location.  

Step 3: Show up.
Once you know where to go, it is as simple as showing up.  Arrive a little early to sign in.  Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., and the caucus is convened at 7:00.  At many caucuses, multiple precincts meet in one location.  Generally, you go directly to your precinct to sign in, but people or signs should direct you.  There is generally a fair amount of literature to review.  There is always DFL party literature, and often candidate literature.  It is not uncommon for local officials or candidates to make an appearance too.

Step 4: Engage with others in your precinct as you wait to begin.
The caucus is a great place to meet neighbors who share your political view.  But caucuses also are the first step in developing resolutions to be included in the DFL platform.  Talk about ideas and engage others.  The caucus is the first step to offer a resolution on an issue important to you.  Before the close of the caucus, attendees in your precinct will vote on the issue, and if passed , will forward the resolution on to the next level of discussion.  Click here to open the resolution form.

Step 5: The caucus begins.
The caucus begins with a few introductions and a couple required announcements.  To begin the process, the caucus attendees elect a caucus chair, a secretary to record notes and tellers to count ballots.  These positions are occasionally opened up to volunteers, then consented to by the body with a vote.  Caucuses are run using parliamentary procedures to nominate and elect officials.  Do not be embarrassed to ask questions if you are unfamiliar with how to phrase something — others, including the conveners and even the chair are often in the same boat. 

Step 6: Elect precinct officers.
Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct.  Each precinct elects a precinct chair and two precinct associate chairs.  Within the DFL, at least  one male and one female must be elected.  For example, if a woman is elected chair, at least one associate chair should be a man, and vice versa.  Precinct chair responsibilities can be very different from district to district.  A key responsibility is to attend local DFL committee meetings and to help organize and increase the presence of the party through voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Additionally, in some districts, the precinct chair is expected to raise a certain amount of money in a district. In others, it might be as simple as calling people in the precinct to remind them of a meeting or an election.  Literature describing the duties will be at your precinct location.

Step 7: Elect senate district delegates.
Each precinct has a predetermined number of delegates to elect to the county or senate district convention.  The caucus attendees will elect representatives to be delegates.  In many districts, there are often more delegate and alternate openings than there are people willing or able to attend the convention.  You don’t need to launch a massive campaign to be elected to the next level.  It is important to make sure your precinct chair checks the “delegate” box on the attendance forms to ensure you are included in the rolls for the convention.  Keep something in mind.  After the caucuses a list of the convention attendees is often acquired by candidates.  Expect calls from candidates.

Step 8: Vote in the gubernatorial straw poll.
Attendees of the caucus will be given a straw poll ballot to indicate their preference among the candidates for governor.  Cast your vote before 8:00.

Step 9: Finish up.
If there are pending resolutions, finish considering the resolutions.  The chair will announce the results of the straw poll and finish up with any announcements.

Step 10: Adjourn.
Finally, the caucus chair will ask for a motion to adjourn the caucus.
After the caucus there are tasks that need to be completed.  Cleaning up the area is the simplest duty to help with.  Reporting results and entering attendance data into the DFL database is also an important task.

Note: While many of these steps fit caucuses statewide, I did write this specifically with experience in the south metro.  Feel free to forward this or repost it.  Please credit MNDem.com if you do.