MANKATO — Because Democrats already occupy the top of the ticket in this fall’s statewide elections, Tuesday’s DFL precinct caucuses in the Mankato area will be more about organizing the party.
“This is their chance to get involved and to help assure that our candidates are going to have support,” said Rochelle Major, DFL chair in Blue Earth County. Mankato-area Democrats will meet in Mankato East High School, and other locations include Vernon Center, Mapleton, Lake Crystal and Good Thunder.
Precinct caucuses are also the beginning of the parties' endorsement process. The decision can be momentous, considering that many candidates pledge that they’ll drop out of a race if they don’t get that endorsement.
But it’s the statewide races that draw the most interest, and the only such open race for the DFL is secretary of state. Mark Ritchie has said he’s not running for re-election, and there will not be a straw poll for the Democrats in this race, at least not in Blue Earth County.
Lori Sellner, the DFL’s 1st Congressional District chair, said it’s easier to attract people to precinct caucuses when multiple Democrats are running for the top offices.
“Then those campaigns would encourage their supporters to get to the caucus to go through the process to get to the state endorsing (convention),” she said.
Just as precincts are like the atoms of the electorate, precinct caucuses are the first level of political organization. Before a delegate can endorse a statewide candidate, he or she has to continue through the county and to the state convention.
Likewise, changes to a party’s platform must pass through higher levels, but they start at precinct caucuses.
Sellner said minimum wage increases will clearly be a major issue at the precinct level.