ST. PAUL—The chairs of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican parties rarely agree on anything, but on Monday, Feb. 5, the two leaders held a joint Capitol new conference to urge voters to go to their precinct caucuses on Tuesday night, Feb. 6.
The caucuses are important, DFL Chairman Ken Martin and GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said, because they start the process of endorsing candidates for governor, U.S. senator, members of Congress and other state offices.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton isn't seeking re-election, so with an open governor's race, two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot and four potentially very competitive congressional contests, Martin said, "Minnesota will be at the epicenter of the 2018 elections, and precinct caucuses are where it all begins."
Carnahan agreed. "For the first time in many years, we truly are going to be at the forefront of national politics in this election cycle," she said.
Both parties will conduct non-binding straw polls for governor. While those "beauty contests" show which candidates are most popular at this early stage of the races, they do not necessarily predict the parties' eventual endorsed candidates.
The last time Minnesota had an open governor's race in 2010, for example, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak won the DFL straw poll, and state Rep. Marty Seifert came out on top in the GOP race. But neither won his party's endorsement a few months later.
Nonetheless, the straw poll gives the winner a "bit of a boost," Carnahan said. It enables candidates to "show their political muscle," Martin said.
Carnahan announced that President Donald Trump said in Washington last week that he would make a campaign appearance in Minnesota later this year. "The Trump wave still remains very strong (in the state)," she said.
Martin welcomed a presidential stop here. "No one would fire up Democrats more than Trump," he said.
To take part
•The caucuses start at 7 p.m. in more than 4,000 precincts across the state.
•Anyone who will be eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 state election can participate.
•To find caucus locations, go to " target="_blank">caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/.