Precinct caucuses: Beltrami wooed by gubernatorial hopefuls
Minneapolis Mayor R.T Rybak, his wife Megan and mother Lorraine drove up to the Red Lake Casino on Saturday to meet with about 70 people who might support him Tuesday.
"We had to make a choice on where to be on this very incredibly important Saturday before the caucuses," he told the gathering, which included three other DFL candidates. "And I am so thrilled that we have this and it's an honor to be here."
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner and her husband, John Woodle, came up to Bemidji on Friday where they spent the night before the forum at Red Lake.
While she plans to go directly to the DFL primary in September, she's also working potential delegates who attend Tuesday's precinct caucuses. She's one of only two women in the race, and one of few non-legislators.
"Our policies, our thoughts, are very similar," Gaertner said, "so you need to think about who can win."
As county attorney candidate, Gaertner took 15 of 18 suburbs that surround St. Paul. Forty percent of the statewide vote is in the suburbs, she said.
"I give this state the opportunity for a fresh start," Gaertner said.
But so do nine other DFLers and six Republicans, as well as Independence Party hopefuls still lining up.
The first step is Tuesday's precinct caucuses, where citizens can partake of grass-roots politics and recommend party platform issues, debate resolutions and electe delegates to higher conventions.
But it is the governor's race that is the draw this year, as Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty isn't seeking a third term. Straw polls will be taken at party caucuses to begin to rank gubernatorial hopefuls, with endorsees emerging from state conventions in April.
"At least you'll know if you're in the hunt," said Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, a candidate for governor.
Precinct caucuses start at 7 p.m., with many precincts cloistered in the same location. People who attend should basically agree with that party's positions and may or may not have a gubernatorial candidate in mind.
Beltrami County DFLers will gather at 7 p.m., but the gubernatorial preference poll won't be conducted until 8 p.m. Ballots must be cast in person; no absentee ballots will be taken. Anyone eligible to vote in the November election can participate in the poll, and anyone 16 or older can partake in the caucus.
Beltrami DFLers will hold caucuses at 12 sites throughout the county, with nearby precincts going to the closest sites.
In Bemidji, Wards 2 and 4 will caucus at J.W. Smith School, Wards 1 and 3 at Bemidji State's Hobson Union and Ward 5 at Lincoln School. Those sites will also have nearby townships.
Other DFL caucus sites include Grant Valley Town Hall, Northern School, Roosevelt Town Hall, Blackduck American Legion, Red Lake Tribal Council Chambers, Redby Community Center, Ponemah Community Center, Little Rock Community Center and Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Grygla.
Beltrami County Republicans will caucus at only three sites in the county. All five city of Bemidji wards will caucus at the Bemidji High School Commons, joining 23 other precincts.
Other GOP sites are Blackduck High School Multi-Purpose Room and Kelliher High School Commons.
The Independence Party has no local precinct caucuses, but people in the Bemidji area are directed to one at Billy's, 30898 Ranchette Drive, Breezy Point. The site will host Independence Party goers from Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods and Morrison counties.
Those unable to attend can participate in an online caucus at www.independenceminnesota.org through March 2.
The Green Party, while no longer a Minnesota major party, is still holding precinct caucuses. The one for the local region begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Cass Lake Community Library, 223 Cedar.
Tom Bakk of Cook. State Senate tax chairman.
Mark Dayton of Minneapolis. Former U.S. senator and state official.
Matt Entenza of St. Paul. Former state House minority leader.
Susan Gaertner of White Bear Lake. Ramsey County attorney.
Steve Kelley of Hopkins. Former state Senate education chairman.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis. State House speaker.
John Marty of Roseville. State senator, health policy chairman.
Felix Montez of Minneapolis. Former Republican legislative candidate.
Scott Raskiewicz of St. Paul. "Social-libertarian DFLer."
Tom Rukavina of Virginia. Feisty state representative.
R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis. Mayor, former journalist.
Ole Savior of Minneapolis. Artist and perennial candidate.
Paul Thissen of Minneapolis. House health policy chairman.
Robert Carney of Minneapolis. Losing 2009 mayor candidate.
Leslie Davis of Minneapolis. Environmentalist, frequent candidate.
Tom Emmer of Delano. State representative.
Bill Haas of Champlin. Former state representative.
David Hann of Eden Prairie. State senator.
Philip Herwig of Milaca. Businessman.
Marty Seifert of Marshall. State representative, former GOP leader.
Robert Hahn of St. Paul. Business owner.
Tom Horner of Edina. Public relations executive.
Joe Repya of Eagan. Veteran, former Republican.
John T. Uldrich of Minneapolis. Business executive.
Rahn Workcuff of Minneapolis. Disabled veteran.
Richard Klatte of Brooklyn Park. Soil and water commissioner. (Green Party).
Harley Swarm of Coon Rapids. Mechanical engineer (Constitution Party).
Chris Wright of Edina. Computer technician (no party).