Caucuses coming in February

Published 7:17 pm Friday, January 21, 2022

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This year will mark the midterm elections and with that comes the start of the election season.

For both Republicans and Democrats that starts on Tuesday, Feb. 1 with the caucuses, the grass roots beginnings to the elections.

The Mower County Republicans will hold their caucus in two different locations. In Austin they will meet at Ellis Middle School while the other will be held at Grand Meadow Public Schools.

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Meanwhile, the Democrats will meet at Riverland Community College.

Both caucuses start at 7 p.m.

While hot ticket items won’t be decided at the caucuses, there is an inherent importance to the event. In short, all things need a beginning, and the caucuses are an opportunity to establish a base as to where the party is likely to go as the election season gets deeper.

“I think it’s more important than most people give it credit for,” said Dennis Schminke, vice chair of the Mower County Republicans. “I think it’s hard for people who are maybe nominally calling themselves Republicans, but do not participate in this process, for them to understand how the party ends up in one spot.”

While both parties innately have different ideas, the importance of the caucus remains the same. Want your voice to be heard? Attend a caucus.

“The caucus is very important to the Minnesota DFL in that this is the basis for the rest of the policies that our developed for our platform,” said DFL Vice Chair Nancy Bakke-McGonigle. “This is our outreach to people in general. People who are extremely active, but maybe not as active, but still want to participate in their local process.”

In general three things will happen at caucus. The precincts will determine delegates that will move on to the county convention in March. Ideas will be gathered into a forum and if approved at the caucus will continue on to the county and then the district and so on.

Lastly, if necessary, a straw poll will be held. This is an unofficial poll taken to show where popular opinion will lie.

In the case of the Republican side, they will be looking at which one of the Republican candidates for governor should challenge Gov. Tim Walz, who is running for a second term this November along with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.

However, these activities are more than just throwing ideas into a hat. Meaningful discussion takes place in order to further solidify that foundation.

It’s an important step that many maybe don’t pay enough attention to.

“This is the place where we discuss,” Bakke-McGonigle said. “It goes on up that ladder. It is not a small event. We will elect precinct chairs that make up the county central committee. These are the decision makers. It’s very important.”

It’s the same consensus on the Republican side.

“Not everybody who puts an R behind their name, or a D behind their name thinks the same way,” Schminke said. “This is how things get sorted out.”

Mower County DFL Precinct Caucus

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 1 (Registration at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: Riverland Community College in Austin.

Notes: All participants and guests must follow these COVID-19 practices

• Where a fitted mask over the nose and mouth, even while speaking

• Socially distance when possible

• Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or COVID-19 negative test.

A non-attendee form is available on the Minnesota DFL site for those who cannot or do not wish to attend in person.

Contact Nancy Bakke-McGonigle, Mower DFL vice-chair at 507-438-7916 or with questions concerning the caucus on Feb. 1.

Mower County Republican Caucus

When: 7 p.m., Feb. 1

Where: Residents of eastern Mower County: Grand Meadow Public School; residents of western Mower County: Ellis Middle School.

Contact Brian Thiel at 1-507-598-0216 or 1-507-219-1774 for the caucus in Grand Meadow and Dennis Schminke at 1-507-219-1299 for the caucus in Austin.

Notes: Because Austin’s meeting is at Ellis Middle School, policy for the school district must be followed. For more information on APS’ current policy: