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Precinct caucuses set for Tuesday across state

WORTHINGTON -- It's only March, but come Tuesday night it's officially election season.

Political parties across Minnesota will gather for precinct caucuses, where all interested individuals gather to discuss candidates and issues that matter most to them. In Nobles County, residents of all precincts will gather at Worthington High School (Republicans) and Worthington Middle School (Democratic Farmer Labor), respectively.

"I think we're going to get a very good turnout this year," said Doug Bauman, Nobles County DFL chair. "We sent out notices, and we have a lot of planning to attend."

With state offices such as governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor -- along with state representatives, the District 22 senator and a U.S. representative -- up for election in November, interest level among members of both major parties is expected to be high, Minnesota GOP Director of Communications Mark Drake said.

"We've been doing a lot of promotional things on it, and for a couple of weeks we were doing a couple of joint appearances with the DFL," Drake said. "It's an important part of grassroots democracy."

At precinct caucuses, delegates to parties' county conventions will be selected, preference ballots for candidates completed and resolutions passed for consideration at the county and (if advanced there) state level.

"People who want to have a say about who's on the ballot need to come to the precinct caucuses," Bauman said. "If you want to have a say in resolutions, you need to come to caucuses."

Caucuses used to take place at each individual precinct within Nobles County, Bauman explained, but small turnouts at some events led to combining them at one site. That way, those new to the caucus process will have assistance from those who are experienced.

Bauman added that after precinct caucus night, preparations will begin for county conventions, which typically occur within the next few weeks.

"One thing we're doing a little differently this year is the counties in District 22 have all decided to have their conventions on the same day, March 18, except for Pipestone," Bauman said. "We'll be having a lot of people running for state offices coming down and visiting throughout the counties."

Lin Chambers, Nobles County GOP Chair and Senate District 22 Chair, said area county GOP conventions will have varying dates -- Cottonwood County's will be April 7, Jackson County's April 1, and Rock County's April 22. The date for the Nobles County event will be set Tuesday, and Chambers was unsure of dates for Murray and Pipestone counties.

Sign-ins for Tuesday's precinct caucuses begin at 6:30 p.m., with delegate elections slated for approximately 8 p.m. Preference ballots will be available through the evening.

"Very few states still have a caucus system, and we still have one," Drake said. "It's very important for people to get involved, because they can have a significant impact."

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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