Turning out the vote; Mower County, state picks Sanders
Published 10:33 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016
606 show for the DFL
Six-hundred-plus Democrats flooded the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s Ruby Rupner Auditorium and lined up to the back of the parking lot for the caucus Tuesday.
The DFLers, like Minnesota, heavily favored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who received 391 votes to former New York Sen. and former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s 210 votes. Five voters were uncommitted.
The many DFLers were eager to have their voices heard.
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“If you want the vote to go the way you want, it’s always important. If you stay home and do absolutely nothing, then don’t complain,” Mower County DFL Chairwoman Wanda Lunning said. “The caucus is the best place to get started because that’s the grassroots and that’s where you can be most active until election time.”
Ten minutes before caucuses officially closed, people were still coming in the door.
Lunning said she was happy so many people were interested in the caucus, but she wished they had known how many people were going to attend so they could have chosen a different location.
Among the throngs of people waiting to cast ballots and discuss issues, people ranging from high school seniors to senior citizens waited for almost an hour to get into the auditorium. Lunning said they didn’t miss an age bracket.
Austin High School senior Alec Estrada attended the caucus for the first time.
“I wanted to feel like I had a contribution into my country,” Estrada said.
He supported Bernie Sanders as a candidate, and Estrada said he is interested in global warming, pro-choice, gun control and college tuition decreases.
“I like where the Democratic party is leaning towards,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it. I feel like I’m meeting a lot of like-minded people and I’m surprised by some people I see. It’s fun.”
For other caucus-goers, this wasn’t their first time.
Dean Johnson has been to many caucuses and was elected to the state convention as a delegate several times, which he called a wonderful experience.
“You get to shake a lot of hands, see how the machinery works, representatives of the delegates will come and pander for your vote, or change your allegiance so you vote for them,” he said. “It’s all very cordial but decisive. It’s a lifelong interest in politics.”
Johnson supports Clinton because of her international experience and her support of women’s rights and equal rights.
“Hilary is perhaps the most powerful and visible female in the world, and she can influence many leaders to have a more humane society within their realm. I like the idea she can pick up a telephone and call maybe 104 leaders of the world and talk to them by first name,” Johnson said.
He would also like to see the Glass-Steagall Act reinstated, which started in the 1930s to regulate banks after the start of the Great Depression.
More first-time caucus-goers were enjoying the experience.
Deb and Randy Durhman of Grand Meadow said they were interested in what goes on at a caucus and to vote for the person they hope will run on the Democratic ticket in November.
“It’s interesting, there’s a lot of paperwork,” Deb joked. “We see what it all entails and what they do here.”
Though they liked both candidates, the Durhmans supported Clinton because she has “the experience to actually get something accomplished.”
District 27 state Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, said the caucus is the first step and it’s really a grassroots organization.
“It’s a lot of friends and neighbors sitting around and talking,” Sparks said. “It’s amazing to see the amount of new people and the line. I think there’s a lot of energy in the building.”
He added the amount of people coming out Tuesday showed that people are really engaged and involved, which “is what it’s all about.”
“It’s important that we listen to the people,” Sparks added.
District 27B state Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said the caucus itself is really a fun part of the election process because “you get to see who your neighbors are and what the issues are.”
“To see the large, large, large line of people was just wonderful,” Poppe added.
Lunning said the caucus went smoothly and thanked everyone for coming out.
Mower County DFL results
Bernie Sanders 391
Hilary Clinton 210
Minnesota DFL preliminary results