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Candidates woo local voters in advance of caucuses

Area voters will gather on Tuesday for precinct caucuses in a key first step to determine which candidates will win their party's endorsement.

With a crowded field of gubernatorial candidates, Mower County voters can expect plenty of courting in the days leading up to the caucuses. Campaigns are busy sending out mailings and making phone calls to get supporters to turnout.

Mower County DFL Chairman Dale Chidester said the caucus process gives voters a chance to make sure their favorite candidate advances.

"With the caucuses, you get the ability to put the name on the ballot by participating in the process," Chidester said.

So just what are precinct caucuses? They are meetings organized by political parties every two years at which voters can elect delegates, vote in gubernatorial straw polls and propose changes to the party platforms. The delegates advance to county, then district conventions before moving to the state convention where the parties endorse their candidates. During the 2008 presidential election, Minnesota saw record caucus attendance.


In a non-election year, turnout has traditionally be lower, but area political leaders are optimistic.

Turnout expectations

Chidester said among Democrats he has seen interest building, and a recent party meeting drew the largest attendance since shortly after 2008.

Mower County Republican Chairman Clarence Klenke is optimistic that voters will be out in force.

"I think we are going to have a good turnout," Klenke said.

He added that he expects to see higher numbers than in the past around Austin and the western-half of Mower County, which has traditionally had lower numbers for Republican caucuses.

Online caucus

The Independence Party of Minnesota is launching a new online effort to help boost caucus participation.


In addition to holding precinct caucuses in cities across the state on Tuesday, the party is also encouraging voters to participate in online caucuses.

Voters will be able to log on beginning at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Feb. 28 and watch candidate videos, share opinions, submit ideas, vote in online straw polls and interact with fellow voters.

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