Thursday, February 09, 2012

Grassroots cultivated at caucus

Some folks showed up over an hour before our precinct caucus was called to order Tuesday night. Either they were excited to vote in the presidential straw poll, or they relied on a postcard they received with the incorrect time shown! By 7:00 pm, when state law dictates the caucus is to be called to order, our convener had misplaced his agenda which specifies several items that must be addressed, also per state law. The room where we met had no American flag, but fortunately our convener brought a desk-sized flag for just that contingency.

The rest of the caucus went much more smoothly!

Our voting in the presidential straw poll reflected the statewide totals: Rick Santorum, 23 votes; Ron Paul, 15; Mitt Romney, 10; Newt Gingrich, 4. If anyone wondered whether the Tea Party is still relevant in Minnesota (or Missouri or Colorado), there's your answer.

We had over fifty persons sign in, plus one observer. In non-presidential election year caucuses, attendance is sometimes so low that we can't elect our allotted number of delegates. No such problem this year: we elected a full roster of delegates and alternates, who will represent our precinct at the first post-redistricting BPOU (Senate district) convention in March.

The youngest attendee will turn 18 in time to vote in November. Several Vietnam veterans were there, as was a Russian immigrant who fled Communism—only to encounter, to his chagrin, ever-growing statism from both American political parties. I recognized many from previous years, but as always there were also many first-time caucus goers.

Judging by the conversations, the top issues that brought folks out on Tuesday night seemed to be election integrity, the national economy, the right to life, and right-to-work. We had so many sign up to be election judges that we had to use a couple of pages from a yellow legal pad when the printed sign-up sheets were full.

In addition to the presidential candidates, several local candidates had letters, literature, or signs at our caucus: Congressman Erik Paulsen, Rep. Sarah Anderson, state Senate candidate Norann Dillon, and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Resolutions to the party platform were mercifully few this year. My resolution to greatly streamline the platform failed on a close vote that required a division of the house. A resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to make Minnesota a right-to-work state also failed on a close voice vote. While I recognize the need for a party platform, I find the current platform too long and detailed, and the resolutions part of the convention agenda a marathon exercise in contentious hair-splitting.

Our biggest challenges will be, as always, fundraising and volunteer recruiting, and forming a new BPOU after the redistricting maps are released (by February 21). It seemed on Tuesday that there is enough dissatisfaction with President Obama and the economy, and positive energy from the Tea Party, to keep the grassroots fed and energized through the next nine months of conventions and campaigns.

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