Area caucuses remain important to the process, leaders say

Published 1:59 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Mower County’s GOP and DFL parties will be holding their respective caucuses this coming Tuesday night, starting at 7 p.m.

Like in year’s past, the GOP will hold caucuses in two locations to accommodate people living in the west and east halves of the county.

For those in the west side of the county, including the townships of Adams, Austin, Lansing, Lyle, Nevada, Red Rock, Lyle, Mapleview, Rose Creek and Waltham, caucus will be held at Ellis Middle School (1700 Fourth Avenue SE).

Email newsletter signup

This also includes the cities of Austin, Adams, Brownsdale, Lyle, Mapleview, Rose Creek and Waltham.

Meanwhile the caucus for the eastern half of the county including Bennington, Clayton, Dexter, Frankford, Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Lodi, Marshall, Pleasant Valley, Racine and Sargeant will be held at Grand Meadow Public Schools, located alongside Highway 16.

This also includes the cities of Dexter, Elkton, Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Racine, Sergeant and Taopi.

The DFL’s caucus will be located under one roof at Riverland Community College’s West Building in its cafeteria.

The caucuses continue the grassroots shoots of the political process locally and have been an important part of the political engine as a whole including the electing of officers, delegates for the county convention and the introduction of resolutions.

“If there is something really on your mind a resolution is passed on to the county convention and voted on,” said Mower County GOP Chair Rande Gronseth. “Eventually it could get to the state convention and be put on the platform.”

This initial effort within communities and counties is seen as important by members of both parties.

“It’s like the base level of getting people involved,” said DFL Chair Aaron Jones.  “Anybody can be heard on an issue.”

At the same time though, participation in caucuses in both parties has been down over the past few years, likely due to the switch to a presidential primary a few years ago.

“It’s the ultimate grassroots, but the problem is nobody is attending them like they used to,” Gronseth said. “They used to do a straw poll for the president, but then they switched to a primary.”

Jones said he remembers what past caucuses looked like in past election years with lines leading out of buildings.

He believes there remains an importance to caucuses.

“Maybe some people have a misunderstanding about the role that’s been separated as far as presidential preference balloting,” Jones said. “That has already moved away. There’s still a lot of function that the caucus has served.”

In recent election years, there have been more voices from each side of the aisle that have advocated for ending all caucusing altogether. 

That’s something both Gronseth and Jones believe would be a mistake.

“I think they should remain a political process,” Gronseth said. “Our country is a republic not a democracy. You get a vetting out of ideas. In a primary, what it amounts to is who can buy the most TV in town. With caucus systems and state conventions you get to have really good discussions on things.”

“I think giving those kind of examples of like the idea of the Peace Corps came out of the caucus in the Iron Range,” Jones said “Everybody has some things they want to fix and this is the ground step of moving that forward. This is how people’s ideas get to be a part of political movements and actually incorporate it.”