Thank you to everyone who participated in caucus last night.
🇺🇸 GOP caucuses bring out sense of energy; Jensen winning straw poll for governor
Democrats were able to participate by essentially emailing in their choices for delegates and other ideas for the party’s platform of issues.
Energized at the prospects of gaining ground in November’s election and unified over a sense of purpose, ardent Republicans gathered across Minnesota on Tuesday night in small groups to plan their push.
The events — some 4,000 events, actually — were precinct caucuses, small community meetings that begin the process of endorsing candidates running for office in November’s election, which will affect nearly every elected office from county commissioners up to the governor.
The headline to come out of the night would be the result of the straw poll for governor, where the field of candidates seeking to challenge Gov. Tim Walz, a DFLer, has grown crowded.
Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, a family physician who gained prominence by expressing doubts on COVID-19 vaccines, took a strong lead over all others early into the evening.
The poll carries no actual impact, but serves to take the pulse of the party faithful as campaigns are ramping up.
GOVERNOR STRAW POLL
With nearly 93 percent of precincts reporting, here were the results:
•Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, a Chaska physician who has led the field in fundraising: 38 percent;
* State Sen. Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake, the former Senate Majority leader: 14 percent;
* Dr. Neil Shah, a dermatologist from North Oaks: 12 percent;
* Kendall Qualls, a former health care executive and Army veteran: 11 percent;
* Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy: 11 percent;
* State Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake, who has chaired key human services committees: 7 percent;
* Undecided: 7 percent;
* Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek announced his candidacy Tuesday. Stanek’s name was not printed on ballots, and official party results did not include a tally for him.
Beyond the straw poll, caucuses serve as the base level of grassroots organizing, where people decide which delegates will attend a series of larger gatherings later in the year, culminating with the state convention wherein the party will formally endorse a candidate. Endorsements are not legally binding — any candidate can still enter their name in the August primary. However, that practice is frowned upon — more so in the GOP than with Democrats.
Caucuses also allow regular folks to bring up ideas they want to see in their party platforms — documents intended to reflect the ideals and issues a party stands for.
“It’s important for us to be involved at the grassroots level,” said Gavin Woodland, who came to caucuses at Waconia High School with his wife, Cassy, their 2-year-old daughter — who would certainly be up well past bedtime — and Cassy’s mother, Jane Norton.
It was worth attending, despite the likelihood the toddler would make them pay for it later, Gavin said. “This is where you can feel the impact.”
ISSUES ON THEIR MINDS
Woodland echoed a sentiment voiced by a number of caucus attendees, who said they felt the country — and the state — had changed for the worse.
“We’ve seen a lot of morals taken out of life, out of school, out of government,” he said. “This is not the Minnesota we grew up in.”
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