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Caucuses are Tuesday, if you care

February 5, 2012
by Chuck Hunt, Register Editor
Republican candidates and members of the media from across the country flocked to Iowa last month for the state’s caucuses.

Then they all headed to New Hampshire, South Carolina and finally, Florida last Tuesday.

Each state was a big deal in the race to determine the Republican candidate for president. In fact, it looks like the Florida primary vote was a really big deal.

You may wonder when Minnesota’s turn will be to stand in the national spotlight and help select the presidential candidates.

Well, that is this Tuesday, Feb. 7, when the political caucuses are held, including ones in Faribault County.

But, don’t hold your breath waiting for a bunch of hoopla. Ain’t going to happen.

They say that in Iowa last month nearly every single resident of the state was able to shake hands with at least one Republican candidate for president (including Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann who is originally from Iowa and who did shake every single Iowa resident’s hand).

And, they say that every single resident of Iowa was interviewed by at least one reporter from either a newspaper or television network.

If you are waiting for your chance to tell some reporter who you think is the best qualified candidate, again, don’t hold your breath or you’re going to need some oxygen.

When it comes to the Minnesota caucuses, the national media – and the candidates themselves – consider them to be a yawner.

How come? We have 40 delegate votes that are going to be cast at the national political conventions. Doesn’t anyone care?

Well, no they don’t.

That is because at the caucuses on Tuesday night there will just be a straw vote taken. It isn’t binding on any delegates and basically means absolutely nothing.

Also on Tuesday delegates to the county and/or district conventions will be elected. That too, means very little.

Eventually there will be a state political convention and that is where the actual delegates to the national convention (all 40 for each party) will be elected.

That actually means something, but to be honest, I have no idea what. Because we still are not sure exactly how those delegates will vote.

The problem with Minnesota’s caucuses, in my mind anyway, is that only a handful of people attend them.

So, only those people who are willing to get off the couch, find out where the caucus is, and attend it, get to vote. And some of those people are, well, odd for lack of a better word. They want to talk about gun control, abortion, Iran and Newt Gingrich’s third wife.

The rest of us are home watching American Idol.

In case you don’t know it, the whole process of selecting a candidate for president is, well, screwy for lack of a better word.

Why?

Well, some states hold primaries, choosing the candidates they want their delegates to vote for.

But sometimes the candidate with the most votes gets all of that state’s delegates, and sometimes the delegates are split by percentage of votes received.

Some states have open primaries where you can vote either Democrat or Republican, and some are closed primaries where you can only vote one way.

States have caucuses, like Minnesota, but these are also run differently and sometimes the straw votes mean something and sometimes they don’t.

Then you have a state like Washington which can’t make up its mind and has a primary election AND a caucus, depending on if you are Democrat or a Republican.

Then you can throw into the mix the “super” delegates, which only the Democrats have.

These are non-elected delegates to the convention who can vote for anyone they choose. I believe these super delegates are mainly congressmen, ex-presidents – people like that.

Of course this year, who cares about them? The Democrats already have their candidate for president without having to hold any caucus, primary election or convention. But they will hold them anyway.

And I also don’t want to get into the matter of the states all holding primaries and caucuses whenever they want to.

Or the fact that millions and millions of dollars are spent on these races. Well, except for in Minnesota, that is.

We are still the state that nobody cares about.

The solution? It could be to have every state hold a caucus if they wish, on say, Feb. 7. Then have every state also hold a primary election, all on the same day, say March 13, and call it Super Tuesday.

Or not.
 
 

 

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