Local parties excited for caucus ahead of presidential primary

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BEMIDJI -- While the state of Minnesota has moved its presidential selection style to a primary format, county political parties will still participate in grassroots democracy with caucus events.

Beltrami County chapters of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican parties are both gearing up for caucus night next Tuesday, Feb. 25. Because the caucus is now separate from selecting presidential candidates, Beltrami County DFL Chair Curtiss Hunt said he's been working to get the word out on the change.

"We've done more outreach and have been bringing people together," Hunt said. "We're even holding a chili dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the (Bemidji) Middle School to bring more folks out. Even though we don't have a presidential primary, we'll still be endorsing candidates in Beltrami County for local districts."

Rich Siegert, Beltrami County GOP chair, said it's hard to estimate what the attendance will be considering the change.

"I'm not sure what to expect. It would be nice if a lot of people attend, but if I had to guess, it will be an average turnout," Siegert said. "Two years ago we had one that was more lightly attended, it was an off-year, midterm deal. I think this year there will be a lot more activity on the democratic side since there are all those candidates. That's what we had four years ago as republicans."


Caucuses on both sides of the aisle are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. However, the DFL is requesting attendees arrive at 6:30 p.m. for registration.

According to a DFL press release, the caucus will be an opportunity to learn about 2020 candidates, debate resolutions for the party's platform, elect precinct chairs and determine delegates for future conventions. The Beltrami County DFL convention is April 4, and the endorsing convention for State Senate District 5 is April 18. The Minnesota state DFL convention is May 30-31.

"It's a big chance for our folks to introduce resolutions that become part of the state's DFL platform," Hunt said. "For the DFL party, it's going to be a very welcoming process. One of our strongest points is it's a very grassroots organization."

"The caucus night will be to bring people together to discuss the issues and to take a look at the platform of the party," Siegert said. "We also need delegates from all of the precincts. Those delegates will go on to the county convention."

The Beltrami County GOP convention is scheduled for March 21. Along with the county level, delegates will also have the opportunity to represent precincts at the endorsing convention for local state legislative districts. Like the DFL, the GOP will hold its statewide convention in a few months, scheduled from May 15-16.

The caucus locations for the Beltrami County Republican Party are:

  • Bemidji High School, 2900 Division St. W.
  • Blackduck High School, 156 First St. NE.
  • Kelliher High School, 345 Fourth St. NW.
  • Red Lake High School, 23990 State Highway 1.

For the DFL, caucus sites are:

  • Our Saviors Lutheran Church,37408 Hamre Rd. NW in Grygla.
  • Ponemah Community Center, 25003 Abinoojinah Drive.
  • Red Lake Nation College, 15480 Migizi Drive.
  • Blackduck High School, 156 First St. NE.
  • Beltrami County DFL headquarters, 1510 Bemidji Ave. N.
  • Bemidji Middle School, 1910 Middle School Ave.

To find out what caucus location to go to, visit Next week's caucus is the first of three political events in a row, with the presidential primary on March 3 and the Township Tuesday elections March 10.

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