Campus hosts party caucuses

Three political parties had their annual caucuses Tuesday night on the University campus while another party gathered in north Minneapolis.

Those in attendance met to hear from and endorse candidates for local, state and national offices. The parties also discussed issues of importance to them.

Republicans

About 40 people attended the Republican caucus in the mechanical engineering building on the East Bank.

At 7:06 p.m. the meeting officially began with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Matthew Wells, a University student who is finishing his degree in political science, was the facilitator of the event.

After informing attendees how the night would run, Wells read two letters sent by party members. State Auditor Patricia Anderson is seeking re-election and Sen. Norm Coleman wrote to express his support of state Rep. Mark Kennedy for U.S. Senate.

Wells played a recording of Gov. Tim Pawlenty asking members to support his re-election bid, while also highlighting some of the achievements of his political run thus far. He also made note of how his party managed the government shutdown during last year’s legislative session.

University alumnus Jimmy Yang attended his first caucus Tuesday night. He took every opportunity to ask questions from the facilitator and other attendees.

Yang said he has aspirations to become a politician one day, so his attendance was a way to get acquainted with the system and learn about the party’s platform.

Attendee Ruby Bougie was one of the only people present to write a resolution. Bougie wrote a resolution about her disfavoring for abortion.

Democrats

Everyone from students to senior citizens met in Willey Hall on the West Bank for the Democratic caucus.

About 45 people came to participate in a vote to pick the Democratic representatives for state and national offices.

Before the vote, students spoke on behalf of various candidates.

Rob Nygaard, a business senior, came to speak on behalf of Ford Bells’ U.S. senatorial campaign.

Since last year, Nygaard said he has seen apathy from students about politics and that inspired him to become more active in the Democratic Party.

“The (caucus) turnout will not be as high as 2004,” said Max Page, president of DFL at the University.

Page said the turnout still was high because the race for offices such as governor and secretary of state are competitive this year.

The results for the caucus at Willey Hall had Steve Kelley in the lead for governor, Amy Klobuchar in the lead for U.S. Senator, Matt Entenza in the lead for state attorney general, Mark Ritchie leading for Minnesota secretary of state and Rebecca Otto for state auditor.

Monica Webber, the Democratic caucus convener for District 28A, said she was pleased with the turnout and with the large amount of student participation.

Green Party

About 25 people filed into a room at the North Commons Recreational Center for the Green Party’s precinct caucus Tuesday night.

Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon said he expected “folks to show up,” but recognized it wouldn’t be a large crowd since the party is a smaller one.

At the meeting, those in attendance discussed two of the candidates seeking endorsements from the party. Because of time constraints, all candidates couldn’t be discussed.

Members of the caucus learned about Michael Cavlan, who is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.

People raised concerns about how a high-profile campaign, such as the Senate race, would affect the party.

One candidate spoke briefly before running to attend other Green Party caucus meetings in other precincts.

Dave Berger, who said he is looking for a Green Party endorsement, announced Monday he is going to run for state auditor.

Berger said one reason he thinks he would be good for the position is his background with statistical analysis

“I’m pretty well-rounded at not only looking at the numbers, but what they mean,” he said.

Those in attendance also discussed resolutions at the meeting, and three were passed by consensus to be sent in to the endorsing/biennial convention in July, said Wyn Douglas, a Green Party caucus committee member.

There, the resolutions will be considered for approval by the rest of the state’s party members, Douglas said.

These resolutions concerned the medicinal use of marijuana, turning Camp Coldwater, a natural spring in Minnesota, into open space and the adoption of instant runoff voting.

Independent Party

Those interested in the Independent Party caucus could travel to Blegen Hall on the West Bank or participate in the caucus in front of their computers at home.

Dave Hutcheson, a volunteer working at the Independent Party’s Minneapolis headquarters for the night, is participating in his group’s caucus online.

Hutcheson said he believes the Independent Party is the state’s only political party offering Internet participation in a caucus. Through the party’s Web site people could vote for candidates, volunteer to help with the party’s campaign and voice concerns.

Only one Independent candidate is running for the state’s highest elected office. Peter Hutchinson is the unopposed choice for governor.

At Blegen Hall, 10 party members, three children and a fanny pack-clad parent listened to legislative candidate Ron Lischeid speak about his platform.

There also has been some interest from others in the party in running for the open U.S. Senate seat, he said.

On Tuesday the party discussed developing its formal platform for the first time, said Bill Sauerwein, Independent Party chairman.

The Independent Party hasn’t taken strong positions on subjects, so it hasn’t pressured its candidates to vote a certain way, he said.

“The problem is that you end up giving a wishy-washy political-sounding answer to every question and people don’t trust it,” Sauerwein said.

Last year the party began to develop its formal platform and decide where it stands on issues.

One idea attendees at the caucus discussed was having a nonpartisan committee determine the state’s legislative districts.