Students ready for today’s GOP caucuses

by Kristin Gustafson

Tonight, Minnesotans will gather in schools and churches to participate in the state’s Republican precinct caucuses.
For Minnesota Republicans, this is the first chance to weigh in politically on the presidential race and choose from three candidates: former U.N. Ambassador Alan Keyes, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
The caucuses also provide students the chance to flex their political muscles — weighing in on the Republican Party platform, listening to local candidates’ positions and selecting their delegates for future party conventions.
Eric Hoplin, state chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, organized a statewide campaign last Wednesday in Northfield, Minn., for 150 students to encourage caucus awareness and participation.
In addition to the rally, the organization mailed 2,000 students voter information, and others received e-mails Monday reminding them to vote, Hoplin said.
Student leaders such as Michael Franklin, chairman of the University College Republicans and a political science and history junior, have led efforts on each individual campus. Specifically, the campus group has worked with individuals and groups to increase activism and organize transportation to Tuesday’s polls.
Franklin said he also contacted all 200 members of the University group via e-mail with reminders about where to find the polls.
“We figure maybe half of that, maybe 100, will show up to the caucuses,” Franklin said.
McCain supporters are perhaps the most organized and visible Republican student group on the University campus with their chalked messages written on the sidewalks near Coffman Union.
On Sunday, University McCain supporters received an e-mail encouraging them to chalk the message “Take back your government and vote for John McCain on Tuesday” on University sidewalks.
Bush’s efforts are less focused on campus and more focused statewide, Franklin said. “Most of the Bush people are just passively Bush supporters,” he said.
And Franklin could not identify any student supporters for Keyes.
“Keyes is not a real candidate anymore,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll drop out shortly.”
No matter one’s age, all citizens are invited to attend the caucuses, but only those eligible to vote in November’s elections may vote on Tuesday.
The caucus format is laid out by Minnesota law, starting exactly at 7 p.m. and using Robert’s Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure throughout the meeting.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected].