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Grassroots politics happens Tuesday

WILLMAR -- Gubernatorial candidates who traipsed through west central Minnesota in recent months will see the results of their work during precinct caucuses Tuesday.

Non-binding ballots for the candidates for governor will be the primary business taken up at caucuses in Kandiyohi County, according to Rollie Nissen, co-chair of the county's Republican Party.

"The straw poll for governor will be interesting," said Nissen, of Willmar.

With a long slate of candidates, Nissen said the push and pull discussion and balloting could make for "a long night."

County DFL'ers will begin casting non-binding "preference" ballots for governor from 6:30 to 8 p.m., said Sam Nelson, chairman of the county's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

The results of the balloting will be sent to the Secretary of State's office by 10 p.m., said Nelson, of New London.

The ballot results at the caucuses "give candidates a sense of where they're at" with the dedicated party members at this point in the election year, Nelson said.

"I'm delighted there are so many strong candidates. The challenge will be sorting that out and picking the candidate we think has the best shot of winning," Nelson said.

Although there likely won't be the same political frenzy and record turnout as during the 2008 caucuses, Nelson said he's hoping that the "heightened interest" in the open governor's seat will bring people out.

"It's the beginning of the grassroots democratic process," he said.

Nissen said he expects a "wide spectrum" of people to show up at the local GOP caucuses, including those involved with the so-called "Tea Party" movement which opposes tax increases and has staged protest against what they call "big government."

Party members will also be voting on resolutions and delegates and may hear from local candidates seeking election or re-election.

So far, Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, and Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, have no announced challengers yet. In fact, neither incumbent has yet publicly announced his intention to run again.

Both Nelson and Nissen said their respective parties expect to have a candidate running for those seats to oppose the expected re-election bid from the incumbent.

For information about where to attend your precinct caucus go to:


Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750