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Caucuses expected to draw crowds

No longer observers only, Minnesotans with political party ties may attend the caucus of their choice and support their candidates Tuesday, Feb. 7, as the 2012 political seasons begins in earnest.

Those attending will take part in straw polls, pass resolutions for possible inclusion in party platforms and elect delegates for subsequent conventions.

Crow Wing County Republican Chair Doug Kern said he had no idea as far as what specific numbers to expect but he thought it could be double the number who attended two years ago when there was no presidential race and that 2010 turnout was “awesome.”

Tiffany Stenglein, Crow Wing County DFL chair, said she did not expect as many Democrats to attend as in 2008, but noted that 8th Congressional District candidates have encouraged people to attend through mailings and phone calls.

Stenglein said the advantage of one central caucus location for the DFL is that it limits confusion about the location but with large numbers there is always a degree of chaos. She said the event was energizing and frantic at the same time.

Democrats will conduct a presidential preference vote which is binding and a congressional preference ballot for 8th district, which is not. DFL Candidates are Rick Nolan of rural Crosby; Jeff Anderson, a Duluth City Council member; and Tarryl Clark, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Michele Bachmann in 2010 in the 6th District. They’re hoping to win the DFL nomination to run against Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn.

Marcia Thurmer said her Green Party tended to be on the fringes and she had no idea how many people to expect. Those who have identified interest in the Green Party’s nomination include Harvey Mikkelson of Michigan, Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts, Ken Mesplay of California — and a possible newcomer, actress Rosanne Barr. Green Party members will take a presidential straw poll.

Those who would like to find out the location of their caucus may go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at and type in their zip code.

Republicans in Crow Wing County will meet at four sites depending on their residence. The sites are Forestview Middle School, Crosby-Ironton High School, Nisswa Elementary School and Crosslake Community School.

Democrats in Crow Wing County will meet at the Brainerd High School cafeteria.

The Green Party will meet Tuesday at the Brainerd Public Library.

The Independence Party will convene Tuesday at the lower level of the Blackridge Bank at 14084 Baxter Drive, with convener Charles Marohn.

Caucuses begin at 7 p.m. for the DFL, the Green Party and The Independence Party. The GOP caucus will begin at 6:30 p.m., with candidates or their representatives delivering brief remarks. The Republicans will break into individual precincts to elect delegates and alternatives to the Feb. 25 Crow Wing County Convention at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

GOP precincts in Crow Wing County will meet at the following locations:

Forestview: All precincts in Brainerd and Baxter, Red, White, Blue, Crow Wing, Daggett, First Assessment, Fort Ripley precincts, Long Lake, Oak Lawn and St. Mathias precincts.

Crosby: All Crosby, Ironton, Deerwood, Cuyuna, Riverton, Trommald, Garrison, Bay Lake, Dean Lake, Irondale, Maple Grove, Nokay Lake, Perry lake, Platte Lake, Rabbit Lake, Roosevelt, Second Assessment and Wolford precincts.

Nisswa: Nisswa, Breezy Point, Pequot Lakes, Center, Gail Lake, Jenkins precincts, Lake Edward, Mission and Pelican Township precincts.

Crosslake: All Crosslake, Manhattan Beach, Fifty Lakes, Ideal, Emily, Fairfield, Little Pine, Ross Lake and Timothy precincts.

For additional information on the GOP caucuses questions may be directed to Kern at 828-8121 or

At the DFL caucuses preference balloting will conclude at 8 p.m. Ballots may only be cast in person. Questions may be directed to Crow Wing County DFL Chair Stenglein at 270-8030.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860