DFL Caucuses and conventions: How they work

With the DFL caucuses happening on Tuesday and the conventions coming up in the next month or two, we wanted to find out why, exactly, they were so important and what happens at them.

Why Does It Matter?

This year, the caucuses and conventions will determine who gets the DFL endorsement for City Council, Mayor, the Park Board, and the Board of Estimate and Taxation. While the candidates who don’t receive endorsement can still run for office, the candidate who receives the DFL endorsement is at a distinct advantage. During the last city council election in 2009, every candidate endorsed by the DFL party won the election – which, incidentally is every current council member except for Cam Gordon from Ward 2, who is a Green Party candidate.

How Does Endorsement Work?

So how do candidates get endorsed by the Minneapolis DFL? There are two hurdles. First, they need to gain support at the precinct caucuses, and second, win the vote for endorsement at the ward or city convention.

 

More election coverage
by Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet

St. Paul has three school board seats on the ballot (as well as the mayor's race, which is not contested at this date), and several other Minneapolis wards have contested elections, too, including:

Ward 3: Jacob Frey, Diane Hofstede

Ward 4: Kris Brogan, Barbara Johnson

Ward 5: Ian Alexander, Brett Buckner, Kale Severson, Blong Yang

Ward 6: Mohamed Cali, Robert Lilligren, Abdi Warsame

Ward 9: Alondra Cano, Jettie Ann Hill, Charles Ryan Curtis, Tim Springer, Ty Moore 

Ward 12: Sandra Colvin Roy, Andrew Johnson, Chris Lautenschlager 

Want to go to your caucus? In St. Paul, Republican caucuses will be at Hazel Park Preparator Academy. DFL caucuses are at seven locations. In Minneapolis, you first need to find out what ward and precinct you are in at the Minnesota Secretary of State website, and then find your caucus location at the Minneapolis DFL website.

TC Daily Planet election coverage can be found on our election page, which also has links to individual pages for each ward in Minneapois, and for the St. Paul school board election. These pages will collect our reported coverage, as well as blogs and community voices, all the way to the election in November. 

What Happens at a Caucus?

At the caucuses, neighbors in each precinct gather to talk about local issues with each other and the candidates. They also elect delegates. Delegates are residents who are willing to attend the DFL convention, which is the event that ultimately determines candidate endorsement. If you are interested in becoming a delegate, it is usually as simple as volunteering for the role.

What Happens at a Convention?

At the convention, delegates will hear speeches and will cast votes for the candidate they would like to endorse. Endorsement goes to the candidate who receives 60% of the votes. If it doesn’t happen on the first round of voting, balloting continues until a candidate reaches the 60% threshold, the maximum number of ballot rounds has been reached, or 51% of the delegates decide to not endorse any candidate.

Join the Minority

Historically, turnout at the caucuses and conventions is small. In 2009, there were just a couple hundred delegates at some of the ward conventions, with even less at others. This year is expected to be different, and Dan McConnell, Minneapolis DLF chair, is predicting a higher turn-out than what they’ve seen in the past. However, the decision for endorsement will still be in a relatively small percentage of residents’ hands.

To participate in the caucuses and convention you just need to be eligible to vote in November 2013, and sign a statement that you are not affiliated with another party.

The caucuses are held on April 16th, starting at 7 p.m. To find your caucus location, you’ll need to know what ward and precinct you are in. Find this out at the Minnesota Secretary of State website. Then, check out the Minneapolis DFL website to find your caucus location.

If you can’t attend the caucus, but are interested in participating, you can sign up to be a delegate. Find the registration form on the Minneapolis DFL website.

Current City Council Candidates by Ward

The DFL party isn’t the only party in town. Here’s the full list of Longfellow city council candidates:

Ward 2:

Ward 6:

Ward 9:

Ward 12:

We want to know – Are you planning on heading out to your caucus? Plan to be a delegate?

  • Good - and important - article. Caucasus are designed, I really believe, so only those who are in the know understand their importance, or when they occur. This kind of game-playing happens in the DFL? Heck, yeah. If you want to make a difference, I urge you to attend your caucus. - by Michele Olson on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 8:40pm
  • Thank you. I'll be at my caucus and plan to be a delegate. - by Deincorporate Henry on Tue, 04/16/2013 - 11:32am

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Rebekah Peterson

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It's a blast

For political nerds and stratagy junkies like me, the caucuses and conventions are a not to miss event. I attended one city convention, Rip Rapson vs. Sharon Sales Belton, that went on until past 2:00 am with no endorcement. There were jugglers and people in costume, spontanious demonstrations – it was a blast. It ended when too many people went home to bed and there weren't enough people there to have a viable convention.

This year, with the new ranked voting in Minneapolis, it's a new ball game. The mayor used to be chosen at the city convention but now, well no one knows how it's going to turn out. But with so many candidates, it's going to be interesting.