n GOP cast straw polls; DFL focused more on lining up delegates, resolutions
by Jim Boyle
Democratic and Republican activists huddled in classrooms at Elk River High School Tuesday to kick off the 2014 political process.
Republicans cast straw polls at caucuses to highlight their preferences in the race for governor of Minnesota and for the United States Senate. They were also polled to see who they would like to be the next 6th District representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democrats, with Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., already locked in for re-election bids, focused more on resolutions, signing up delegates and lighting a fire under activists to help find challengers for Senate District 30 and House District 30A to challenge incumbents Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, and Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out on a Tuesday night,” said Nancy Schumacher, who serves as a Minnesota representative on the Democratic National Committee. “It’s below zero (degrees) and here we are.”
Elk River Republicans who showed up at caucuses Tuesday want Tom Emmer to be the next Congressman to follow Michele Bachmann, who is not seeking another term in the 6th District.
Emmer won a straw poll with 78 votes at Elk River High School. Rhonda Sivarajah got 12 votes. Phil Krinke got eight votes. Three Republicans were undecided.
Emmer, who lost a gubernatorial run against Dayton by 8,770 votes in 2010, also won the straw poll for the entire 6th District, capturing 68 percent of the vote.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in tonight’s caucuses,” Emmer said in a press release. “I talked with attendees in Anoka, Ramsey, Elk River, Big Lake, Becker and St. Cloud about what we need to do to keep this district in conservative hands. I am humbled that so many of these activists would vote for me tonight.”
Elk River was Emmer’s fourth to the last stop. He looked like a man on a mission as he went from room to room to speak and ask for support before heading out.
“To receive nearly a million votes throughout Minnesota, and to lose by 8,700 votes, that leaves an imprint on you,” he said to one group of his run for governor.
Emmer promised activists in Elk River to work even harder in the coming weeks to gain the support of Republicans who have another choice in mind or are undecided. He also promised to abide by the endorsement process to honor the political process at its most basic grassroots level.
“We need to keep this seat, elect a new governor and fire Al Franken,” Emmer said.
To that end, Elk River Republicans picked businessman Mike McFadden in their straw poll for U.S. Senate.
He captured 30 votes over Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, and Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who each got 22 votes.
There were 18 undecided votes in the U.S. Senate straw poll.
St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlber got nine votes. Farmer Monti Moreno got two votes, and retired Army chaplain Harold Shudlick got no votes.
Ortman walked away the victory statewide, pulling in 31 percent of the votes. McFadden got 23 percent.
Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, was the winner of the gubernatorial straw poll held at Elk River High School.
The small business lawyer and legislator who hosted “The Dave Thompson Show,” a radio talk show that aired on AM 1500 KSTP, finished ahead of Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, with 33 votes.
Zellers had 22 votes and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson had 16 votes.
There were 13 undecided votes cast in the gubernatorial straw poll.
Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert got 11 votes. Businessman Scott Honour got 10 votes, and teacher Rob Farnsworth had no votes.
Thompson came out second in the statewide straw poll results. With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, he garnered 26 percent of the non-binding vote, while Seifert had 28 percent of the vote.
The Senate District 30 Convention will be at 9 a.m., March 8 at Elk River High School.
The Sixth District Convention will be on April 12 at Monticello High School.
Democrats at Elk River High School took to resolutions more quickly than the GOP. Having Dayton and Franken locked in for the endorsement, the only thing left for them to decide is who will run for the 6th District Congressional seat. Judy Adams, Joe Perske and Jim Read are seeking the DFL endorsement.
The 6th District Endorsing Convention will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 3 at Monticello Middle School.
The Senate District 30 Endorsing Convention is slated for March 22 at Elk River High School.
Bernice Lawson came to the caucus with four resolutions in hand, one related to the minimum wage and another called the impartial justice act. The two that she, however, was most passionate about, dealt with making sexual violence prevention a priority in Minnesota and creating a task force for the initiative. Lawson has seen first-hand the effects of violence on a person and family. She said she has worked at Rivers of Hope in Elk River and Listening Ear Crisis Center in Alexandria. Her resolution noted more than 61,000 Minnesotan residents were estimated to be sexually assaulted during 2005. Of these victims, 17,562 were children. Lawson wants to see something done about this, and there were six others who live in her precinct willing to support her resolution at Tuesday’s caucus.