Those Minnesotans who are interested in presidential politics get their chance this week to weigh in on the candidates who have survived thus far.
Republican and Independence Party caucuses are at 7 p.m. Tuesday while the Democrats will conduct their caucuses on the weekend (10 a.m. Saturday in Crow Wing County).
The field of candidates has thinned considerably, particularly on the Republican side. Even though the presidential election is still eight months away, many highly regarded GOP candidates have fallen by the wayside. There's not much sense in wearing your Elizabeth Dole hat or your Dan Quayle button to Tuesday's Minnesota caucuses.
Sixty percent of the support needed to secure the Republican and Democratic nominations for president is up for grabs Tuesday. It's not inconceivable that by the time Crow Wing County caucus participants drive home from their Tuesday night meetings, the presidential nominations in the two major parties will be pretty much decided.
CNN and the other network news broadcasts will focus on California, New York, Ohio and other states where huge blocs of delegates are at stake. Minnesota will be an afterthought at best.
The debate crops up every four years as to whether a caucus or primary system best serves the electorate. Unless participation picks up from the low numbers of recent years party officials should seriously look at whether a primary might stir more interest among the voters.
Although participation in the state's caucus system has dwindled from what it once was it is not without some merits. It does provide ordinary citizens with a chance to champion their favorite presidential or U.S. Senate candidate, push a particular cause or just stand up and state their opinions.
Beyond the caucus question, political parties and politicians have to take a hard look at how they can convince the majority of non-voting citizens that elections are relevant to their lives.
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