2010 Minnesota governor's race caucuses: Low turnout, some sparks
Predator calling was more popular than politics at East Grand Forks Senior High School on Tuesday night. In the political realm, the Republican and DFL parties held their local caucuses, combining to draw 29 participants. Elsewhere at Senior High...
Predator calling was more popular than politics at East Grand Forks Senior High School on Tuesday night.
In the political realm, the Republican and DFL parties held their local caucuses, combining to draw 29 participants. Elsewhere at Senior High, community education classes were in session, including 48 adults eager to learn about calling predators such as coyotes into shooting range.
The Republican caucus also taught a lesson, about the uneasy relationship between party regulars and the so-called tea-party wing.
The five participants in East Grand Forks' Ward 4 offered eight resolutions to amend the Republican platform. Jim Hansen, Sally Morris and her three adult children backed the resolutions, which are tea party talking points. Morris and Hansen have been organizers of local tea party gatherings, the next to be held Feb. 13 in the Alerus Center.
The resolutions included such matters as giving county sheriff's power over "rogue federal agencies such as the EPA and FEMA," ending the "sanctuary cities" for illegal aliens and calling for tighter controls over Muslims in the United States. The other nine caucusgoers were mostly quiet -- and didn't cast any votes in favor nor against the resolutions -- until Hansen's proposal to ban public employee unions.
Carl Bjornstad of East Grand Forks' Ward 5 simmered for a while before calmly joining the discussion.
"Resolutions like this will be the death of the party," Bjornstad said. "My dad was a social worker, and he didn't earn squat. They had to unionize to get anything. I caution you all on this. Public employees have to have a voice."
Since Gov. Tim Pawlenty isn't running for re-election, the major job for all attendees Tuesday was to vote for your preference as a governor candidate. No clear favorite emerged, at least not in western Polk County.
The Republican ballot had six votes for activist Phil Herwig -- including all five from Ward 4 -- and two each for Marty Seifert and David Hann. Four participants didn't cast a vote, with JoAnne Whicker speaking for them. "How can you vote when you don't know anything about anybody?" she said. "The only name I recognize is Marty."
On the DFL side, R.T. Rybak and Tom Bakk received three votes each, Matt Entenza two and Paul Thissen one. Six were undecided, which means they're actually undecided or favor Mark Dayton, who wasn't on the ballot.
The caucus is the start in the process of naming each party's candidates. The county convention is next, followed by the Congressional District 7 convention and then the state convention. Despite a state convention endorsement, the September primary election will decide who will run in November, however.
But whether well-attended or not, Tuesday was the first step toward Nov. 2.
"The world is run by those who show up," Tim Finseth, convener of the caucus and former state legislator from Angus, said in praise of the participants.
The Republican caucus lasted two hours and 10 minutes, twice as long as the DFL's, because of the resolutions.
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