The Independence Party faithful may have been few in number, but they probably scored points for dedication with one caucus-goer traveling to Brainerd from Bovey and another from the Grand Rapids area.
Eight people attended the caucus for Senate Districts 12, 4 and 3 at the Sawmill Inn in Brainerd, a significant drop-off from the party's heyday, when Jesse Ventura won the governship.
"When Jesse was in office he didn't do much for the party," said Buford Johnson, the caucus chair.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won the Independence Party straw poll for president at the Sawmill Inn with two votes. Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and Ralph Nader each received one vote each.
Buford Johnson (left) of rural Pillager, Warren Davison of northeast Brainerd, Gloria Benzie and her husband, Charles, of rural Pillager, Janet Doshan of Brainerd and Bill Hamm of Itasca County were the only attendees in the opening minutes Tuesday for the Independence Party caucus for Senate Districts 12, 4 and 3 at the Sawmill Inn in Brainerd. Two more caucus-goers joined them later.» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Bill Hamm of Itasca County said most political parties ignore non-union labor and are over-represented by college graduates.
"These aren't working stiffs," he said of most major party political activists.
Hamm said the political system wasn't broken - it was just under-used.
Johnson, of rural Pillager, explained that there's no national Independence Party, but activists in Minnesota and New York are interested in developing one. Minnesota, he said, has a reputation for organizing and getting people elected while the New York Independence Party knows how to raise money, Johnson said.
"There are a lot of independents in northern Minnesota but they're not real organized," Johnson said. "That's probably why they're independents."
One resolution that passed called for the Independence Party to make multiple endorsements or no endorsements on political candidate.
Johnson, who made the motion, said his intent was to prompt more participation in the political system.
"I'm trying to encourage more people to run for public office," he said.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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