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Join in by attending Feb. 2 precinct caucuses

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When most people think of elections, the month of November comes to mind. It is in November of even-numbered years that our nation's general elections take place.

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However, it is often forgotten that "election day" in November is the culmination of the campaign and election process, not the beginning. By the time you enter your polling booth on Nov. 2, many critical decisions will already have been made. As chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, I want to encourage each of you to be a part of that decision-making process.

First, think Groundhog Day. We Minnesotans pay attention to Groundhog Day, as we try to get through the last few weeks of winter. It just so happens that in 2010, precinct caucuses in our state take place on Feb. 2.

There are many important things that take place at the caucuses. First, it is the meeting at which the candidate selection process starts. Each precinct selects delegates. Those delegates can move on and get appointed as delegates to the state convention.

It is those delegates who choose the party's statewide candidates for offices such as governor, attorney general and secretary of state. These folks are your neighbors, co-workers and local business owners. The caucus is your opportunity to have input upon which delegates will come from your local area.

Second, the state party platform is crafted from proposals submitted at precinct caucuses. If you believe your party platform needs revisions, the precinct caucus provides opportunity for your input. Go find out what the party platform says. Find out if you think it needs change. Show up on Feb. 2 and speak your mind.

Third, the precinct caucuses provide the coming together of the grass roots who drive elections through local political leadership, fundraising and volunteer efforts. These are the people you work side by side to campaign for candidates and advocate various policy positions.

Finally, the precinct caucuses bring elections for local leadership. Becoming a local leader will afford you the chance to help set the agenda and move those issues that are important to you.

I have found that many people don't believe political decisions or the political process are particularly relevant to their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tax-and-spending policies, education, business regulation, definition of the family and a host of other issues touch on all our lives. Every consumer has a stake in the process. A higher sales tax on hardware stores results in more expensive wrenches.

There is a great deal of frustration with the way politicians conduct themselves. But it does no good to complain from the sidelines. We Americans have a cherished right to gather together and advocate for the causes and candidates in which we believe. Exercise that right starting Feb. 2. In the words of Robert B. Johnson, "The world is run by those who show up."

To find out where to attend your local precinct caucus on Feb. 2, please visit www.mngop.com.

Tony Sutton is chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

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