Tuesday night’s activity in the Precinct Caucuses starts the 2018 election cycle in earnest. The culmination of activity occurring in communities across the state is a testament to the vibrancy of Minnesota’s participatory democracy.
On the DFL Side
We attended Senate District 66, held at the Roseville Senior High, which comprises the communities of St Paul, Roseville, Falcon Heights Lauderdale. This district is the highest DFL index in the state. This was a hotspot of the evening because both DFL Gubernatorial Candidates Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN01) and State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D-MN) were on-hand greeting the delegates and spoke in each of the twenty-four precinct caucus rooms for their allotted one-minute, prior to the closure of the DFL preference balloting in the which, is a nonbinding beauty contest. Upon the conclusion of the event, we saw former St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (DFL) greeting caucus attendees upon their departure. We understand he was in Hopkins earlier in the evening.
We saw little signs of campaign activity for US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) or Tina Smith (D-MN) other than some literature and nothing from recently announced challenger Nick Leonard.
The results in SD66 tracked slightly different than the statewide totals showing Walz carrying the night with 228 votes or 27.27%, Otto garnered 156 votes or 18.66%, following closely Rep Erin Murphy (DFL-64A, St Paul) with 153 votes or 18.30%, then Coleman with 119 votes or 14.23%, Uncommitted cared the 5th position with 106 votes or 12.68%, then Rep Tina Liebling (DFL-26A, Rochester) 58 votes or 6.94%, and Rep Paul Thissen (DFL-61B, Minneapolis carrying the rear with 16 votes or 1.91%.
The final numbers were finally posted at 5:48 pm yesterday. The total number of attendees increased to 34,112 and even more significant participation rater when compared to the Republican Party. The positioning of candidates remained the same and the number shifted slightly. showed the same order Walz with 9890 votes or 30.26%, Otto 6465 votes or 19.78%, Murphy 4447 votes or 13.61%, Uncommitted 3645 or 12.87%, Coleman 3326 votes or 11.74%, Liebling 1739 or 6.14% and Thissen 1338 votes or 4.72%.
The DFL initial statewide results everyone began talking about were reported as of Tuesday 11:47 pm and showed the same order Walz with 8753 votes or 30.91%, Otto 5969 votes or 20.11%, Murphy 3727 votes or 13.16%, Uncommitted 4360 or 13.34%, Coleman 3873 votes or 11.85%, Liebling 1999 or 6.12% and Thissen 1517 votes or 4.64%.
On the Republican Side
The turnout is showing less nearly 3,000 fewer participates than in 2014, the last Gubernatorial election. During that election Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) carried the party’s mantle and he carried the evening with 4995 or 45.42%, with Undecided holding 2nd place 1706 or 15.64%, former Republican Party Chair Keith Downey (R) 1590 or 14.58%, Phillip Parrish 1507 or 13.81% and Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens (R) 1298 or 11.90%.
If there exists an “Enthusiasm gap” as we pointed out in the Special Election Primary results in Senate District 54 on the Republican side, then this could be a banner year for the DFL. Just viewing the preference ballot results and see only 72% of the precinct reporting the DFL outmatch the GOP with nearly three times the participation rate.
The underlining question is what consequence Donald J Trump and the Republican Controlled Congress has as a dampening effect.
The biggest variable in the Republican Party is whether or not former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) enters the race. He has announced he will be leaving his position as Executive Director with the Financial Services Roundtable in March. He has a scheduled meeting with supporters next week and the question is does Johnson’s result in the caucuses have any impact on his decision. If Pawlenty joins the field and selects Stephens as his running-mate, he could give Johnson a run for his money. Since, he is not an announced candidate his name didn’t appear on the caucus ballot, which is a benefit to his potentiality because he is undefined, but it there was a wellspring of support waiting for Pawlenty, we believe the Undecided block would be larger. That would have sent a clearer sign.
No matter who the Republican Gubernatorial candidate is they will still need to campaign with Trump in their peripheral vision.