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Political process alive and well in the county, state and nation

By Staff | Feb 11, 2008

Chuck Hunt – Register Editor

Last Tuesday night I decided to go check out the political caucuses that were being held locally. Both the Democrats and Republicans were caucusing at the Blue Earth Area High School.

All of the Republican precincts in Faribault County were caucusing at the school. Half of the county’s Democrats were also at the school. The other half of the county Democrats were caucusing in Wells.

For me, it was great. Go to one location, the school, and get pictures of both the Republicans and the Democrats in one place. You could say it would be killing two birds with one stone…

When I pulled into the school parking lot I figured something else must be going on, because the parking lot was full. I knew the girls basketball game originally scheduled for that night had been postponed to next Saturday night.

Yet the parking lot was full, and I figured that there was no way that they were all there for the caucuses, there must be something else going on.

But I was wrong. They were all there for the caucuses.

The Republicans of the county had filled the PAC (Performing Arts Center) and the Democrats had filled the media center. There were literally a few hundred people there.

Now, I have never attended a caucus in Faribault County before, but I have gone to one or two – or more – in the past in other locations. A dozen people is usually a good turnout. I wondered if this was a usual situation in Faribault County.

I learned that it was very unusual. DFL chairman John Huisman said that he expected a large turnout and had extra ballots printed in anticipation of a big crowd. The extras were not enough, and they had to run off even more.

Huisman said he has had an interest in the political process for many years. He went to his first caucus in 1972, when he was 22. He was living on a farm near Frost and went to the township hall near the Iowa border for the caucus.

The people there included the precinct chairman, his wife, and Huisman. That’s right, three total people.

It was a little different this past Tuesday night. And Huisman was excited about it. He said that it was interesting to see young and old people getting together and speaking about the issues and having lively discussions.

It impressed me, too. People from each precinct of the county got together to talk about the issues, the candidates, and elect officers and delegates.

I haven’t seen this kind of enthusiasm since (dare I say it?) the 1960’s and the days of JFK, Camelot, Nixon and the Viet Nam war.

After being astounded at the turnout at the local caucuses, I went home and caught the news and saw that there had been a record-breaking turnout at caucuses all across Minnesota.

I am not sure that I have a real good reason to explain this resurgence in the political process, either on the local level or on the state level. Many people who I visited with at the county caucuses said it was their first time at one, but they felt a desire to get involved, help decide some things, and just generally find out what it is all about.

As a cynic, I could say that perhaps it was because there wasn’t anything on TV. But then I remembered that it was Tuesday night and Biggest Loser and American Idol were both on, and both are pretty popular shows.

So I guess that many people were more interested in attending the caucuses and seeing which candidate was the Biggest Loser, and which one will become America’s Idol.

And actually help determine who they are going to be.