Your Guide To A Raucous Caucus

January 31, 2010
State Capitol
By Marty Owings


Okay, so unless your a hardcore politico, you're probably thinking to yourself that going to the Tuesday caucus sounds like it would be about as much fun as a trip to the dentist!

Not so says J.P. Barone who has been participating in caucuses for more than thirty years. Barone says that if you've ever questioned who selected the people on the ballot, the answer is, "you did", either by participating or leaving it up to your neighbors who show up at the caucuses.

Barone, who also happens to be the Chair of the DFL Fourth Congressional District, says the local neighborhood caucus is a tremendous opportunity for the everyday person to influence politics, policy and leadership. For instance, anyone who is 18 years old or older or will be on voting day, can volunteer to run the meeting, although he cautions that it might be a good idea to be familiar with parliamentary rules. He adds that, anyone can submit changes to the party platform and propose resolutions that sometimes make it into law.

Much of what will go on Tuesday will be centered around electing delegates to the state conventions for each party and to vote on a Governor preference. Barone says, it's a chance for people to steer their party.

Barone describes what people can expect when they go to caucus: They will be asked to sign in and pledge to support or affiliate with the party they caucus with. He says there will be people on hand to answer questions and adds that the meeting will be chaired by a volunteer who will call the meeting to order.

Then Barone says, participants will go over a checklist of meeting items, such as electing a precinct chair for the next two years. Then a sample ballot will be passed out for Governor Candidate, which is not binding, but more a sampling or straw poll. Then participants select delegates and alternates to the state convention.

Finally, the caucus will accept and review resolutions. People discuss it, vote for or against them and the resolution is either adopted for submission or it isn't. At the end of the evening the caucus is adjourned and folks go home. Barone says, "It's just a great way to be an active participant in the process and have a stake in candidates and policy."

For information on Minnesota caucuses or to find out where to go for your precinct caucus, visit: