Cancel your plans Feb. 25: It’s caucus night!

Politically speaking, election season is a little different in Minnesota this year than when we last nominated presidential candidates in 2016.

Instead of casting ballots for our favored candidates at precinct caucuses (we saw how well that went in Iowa recently), Minnesotans will vote in a presidential nomination primary on Tuesday, March 3, with absentee voting already in full swing.

That doesn’t mean we’ve done away with caucuses for good, though, as they are still the first step in the grassroots process of forming political party platforms and endorsing local candidates.

Both the Scott County GOP and Senate District 55 DFL will host precinct caucuses in Shakopee on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Without the task of casting ballots for presidential candidates, caucus goers will have more time to talk about issues and policies they want to see on the state party platform.

Scott County GOP Chair Joe Ditto said he hopes to see a solid turnout since this is an opportunity for people to get involved and have a say.

“If you want a say, this is where it starts,” Ditto said. “You can’t sit back and complain if you don’t try and make a difference.”

Senate District 55 DFL Chair Bryan Casey expressed the same sentiment and said he wants people to know that what happens at a caucus matters.

“The caucus is a very integral part in what makes our political system great. This is where you have conversations with your literal neighbors,” Casey said. “You can promote your passion.”

The way it works

The GOP will host its caucus meeting at Shakopee High School and the DFL will host its meeting at Shakopee West Middle School. To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the upcoming November 2020 general election and live in the precinct. To be sure of your caucus location click here.

You do not have to declare yourself a member of either party to attend the caucus, but you must generally agree with the principals of the political party hosting the caucus, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

At the caucus location, residents will be split into groups based on the precinct in which they live. Each precinct will conduct its own discussion of possible resolutions, and then they will vote on those resolutions. Resolutions can be anything from stances on issues like abortion and LGBTQIA rights to things like campaign finance, infrastructure, or clean water.

Approved resolutions will then be voted on again at the county convention held at a later date. Resolutions that are approved there go to the 2nd Congressional District convention, and anything approved there moves on to the state convention. Resolutions approved at the state convention are then added to the political party’s platform.

“If you don’t introduce that resolution at the ground level, it never has the chance to make it to the state platform,” Casey said.

In addition to voting on resolutions, each precinct will elect delegates to attend the upcoming political conventions. These delegates are important because they will have a say in which local candidates get endorsed by the party.

The Scott County GOP is facing a déjà vu situation with former Minnesota House Rep. Bob Loonan and local business owner Erik Mortenson both vying to run against the DFL’s Rep. Brad Tabke in the 2020 general election. (In 2018, the SCGOP endorsed Mortenson, who later won a primary against Loonan but ultimately lost in the general election against Tabke).

All signs point to a wild ride of an election season on all fronts, and what better way to make your voice heard and contribute than to attend your local caucus? Set your DVR and plan to be at your caucus location to register at 6:30 p.m. with the official meetings starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

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