Although the marquee race was in the Democratic Party, Crow Wing County's Republicans, Greens and Independents also conducted caucuses Tuesday night.
Republicans reported at least 375 people attending, a figure Deputy Chair Brian Lehman figured was 61 percent above recent GOP caucuses. He credited the turnout to the Democrats' apparent decision to nominate an "east coast liberal," Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
"My thought all along is we want the Democratic Party nominee to be Kerry because he's the most beatable," Lehman, who's coordinating President George W. Bush's re-election efforts in Crow Wing County, said. "I really think Bush will not only win the presidency but take the state of Minnesota. In Crow Wing County Bush won 52.5 percent. I'm estimating he'll do better than that in 2004."
Dianna Jenkins, GOP precinct caucus chairman, attributed the "fantastic" turnout to Republicans who want to show support for Bush. She said there was a feeling of urgency to be involved in part prompted by the "angry, insulting, disrespectful and false accusations being voiced by many Democratic candidates" against the president.
Resolutions that were passed in the Nisswa, Lake Edward and Red precincts included:
* Prisoners be required to compensate local authorities for the cost of maintaining them in jail.
* Repeal of a state law that says people can't ride an all-terrain vehicle on their own wetlands.
* Get the United States out of the United Nations and the United Nations out of the United States.
* Opposition to the removal of the Ten Commandments from public buildings and support for the current wording of the Pledge of Allegiance which contains the phrase "under God."
Republicans, unlike the other parties, met in their individual precincts at various locations.
The Independence Party of Minnesota, which is not affiliated with any national party, drew 10 people from Crow Wing and southern Cass County.
"It was a little lively and a lot of fun," said Buford Johnson, District 4B chair.
Resolutions called for:
* A statewide pool for health care insurance.
* A value-added tax or national sales tax on all products in place of corporate taxes.
Johnson said the group was divided on the issue of same-sex marriages.
In the Independence Party presidential balloting the totals were Ralph Nader, 4; none of the above, 3; Kerry, 1; and Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., 2.
The Brainerd Area Green Party's turnout was down but that was attributed to a reconfiguration of caucus boundaries. The District 12A and 12B Greens totaled seven. Their preferences for president were not run anyone, 2; Lorna Salzman, 2; David Cobb, 1; Ralph Nader, 1; and Rev. Al Sharpton, 1.
Gayle Fisk, chair of the Brainerd Area Green Party, said the Greens wanted to present voters with a choice and reform of the electoral process.
Resolutions that were adopted called for:
* Peace in the Precincts, a measure calling for no preemptive war, security through economic justice, universal disarmament, sane defense spending and international cooperation.
* Limiting off-road vehicles in wilderness areas.
* Making family planning resources available.
* Repeal of the conceal and carry law.
* An assault weapon ban.
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