A Few Notes on Precinct Caucuses

This comes from the desk of Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton:

Minnesota Republicans will caucus this year on February 7, 2012. The DFL will hold its caucuses on March 6, 2012. That the DFL is holding its caucus a month later than the MNGOP this year has raised some questions; normally, both parties caucus on the same night.

Also, Republican Party tradition (and by rule) has the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina holding February primaries and caucuses; other state Republican parties, by rule, must wait until at least March or have their delegate strength reduced. How can Minnesota Republicans hold their caucuses on February 7 without penalty?

Minnesota is among very few state Republican parties that does not bind its elected delegates to a presidential candidate. There is no formal system applied in MNGOP precinct caucuses that ties the presidential preference of caucus participants to the election of delegates to the Republican National Convention. It is up to each precinct alone to determine how presidential preference is factored in (if at all) to delegate selection.

Because the Republican Party of Minnesota has a non-binding delegate selection process, it is exempt from national party rules regarding caucus scheduling. The MNGOP is not violating any party rules by holding its caucus night on February 7.

Why February 7?

Minnesota state law determines the official date of precinct caucuses – the date on which no other events may be held in public venues. This provides each major political party with a selection of convenient locations for statewide caucuses. If the two major party chairs do not agree on a date, then the official caucus date is the first Tuesday in February. In 2012 that is February 7.

The national Democrat Party also has rules about when caucuses may be held. In this election cycle the Democrat rules are such that the Minnesota DFL cannot caucus before March 1 without violating their national party rules. The MNGOP decided to hold to the official date; hence the difference in caucus dates this year.

In 2008, the previous presidential election year, over 60,000 people attended Republican precinct caucuses. We expect equal or greater turnout in 2012. A lot of people new to party politics will be showing up at precinct caucuses across the state, and it is important that MNGOP precinct causes are efficiently run, and they effectively channel the energy of caucus night into defeating President Obama in 2012.

(This article prepared and paid for by Republican Party of Minnesota, Tony Sutton, Chair. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Copyright © 2009)

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