Sailer greets DFL caucus supporters

Heavy snow didn't keep some determined DFLers from attending their precinct caucuses Tuesday night. State Rep. Brita Sailer (DFL-Park Rapids) addressed the precincts gathered at the Frank White Education Center and Lake George Town Hall, but canc...

Heavy snow didn't keep some determined DFLers from attending their precinct caucuses Tuesday night.

State Rep. Brita Sailer (DFL-Park Rapids) addressed the precincts gathered at the Frank White Education Center and Lake George Town Hall, but cancelled plans to go to Clearwater County.

In Park Rapids, the first term legislator thanked those who showed up and said things are easier in St. Paul the second time around.

Sailer also said she's pleased legislators are talking about energy conservation, a subject she's touted for years. With renewed interest, Sailer said, she also sees the potential for jobs in the area, building wind generators, solar heating systems and the like.

She's also authored legislation to provide grants to nursing homes to install energy conservation measures so they can spend scarce resources on the residents and staff instead of "just watching money go out the window."


She also is working on ways to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities to help businesses, including resorts, stay competitive.

"Democrats talk about jobs, health care, education and transportation," she said, describing these as the issues Minnesotans care most about.

"Thank you for showing up and doing the grassroots thing," she said, acknowledging the two youngest people attending, who are in their early 20s.

Participants in the DFL caucuses cast straw ballots, indicating their candidate preferences.

The contest for DFL endorsement in the Senate Dist. 4 race appears to be a close race.

Precinct caucus-goers in the east half of Hubbard County included in Dist. 4 split their votes evenly between Irene Folstrom and Mary Olson, with a few "undecided" and the majority not marking the ballot for either one.

District-wide, neither Folstrom nor Olson captured a majority of votes in the straw poll. Folstrom gained 46 percent of the votes cast, while Olson had 41 percent. Thirteen percent said they were undecided in the race between the two Bemidji women, who are both attorneys, and are seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point).

In addition to the portion in Hubbard County, Senate Dist. 4 includes all of Cass County, the southeast portion of Beltrami County including Bemidji and parts of Crow Wing and Itasca counties.


The Hubbard County DFL Convention will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 19 at the Park Rapids Area High School auditorium. The Dist. 4 endorsing convention will be April 8 in Walker.

In addition to endorsing a candidate for the Senate race, delegates attending the Dist. 4 convention will be deciding whether to give the nod to Ron Berry of Walker or Doug Cadwell of Pine River for the House 4B endorsement to run against incumbent Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker). There was no straw poll taken on the House 4B contestants.

Straw poll results in Hubbard County Tuesday night aligned closely with the outcome statewide in other races.

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar outpaced veterinarian Ford Bell in the US Senate race. In the contest for gubernatorial endorsement, Attorney General Mike Hatch outdistanced Sen. Becky Lourey of Kerrick, Sen. Steve Kelley of Hopkins and real estate developer Kelly Doran.

Mark Ritchie led Christian Sande for Secretary of State and Rebecca Otto, a former legislator, received more votes than Reggie Edwards for State Auditor. Rep. Matt Entenza of St. Paul received broad support for Attorney General.

A DFL party activist points out straw poll results aren't necessarily indicative of who will survive at the party's district and state endorsing conventions, since not all caucus participants are delegates and those who are delegates often go out of their way to learn more of the candidates' credentials, position and grasp of the issues and electability.

Issues that emerged in the form of resolutions debated in precincts Tuesday night included a single-payer system for health care, bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, child care, higher education costs, energy issues, affordable housing, instant run-off voting for state and local elections, and a sales tax referendum to dedicate 3/16ths of the state's 6.5 percent sales tax to clean up Minnesota's polluted waters and provide natural resources funding.

One precinct, Clay, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the state to meet its constitutional obligation and adequately fund K-12 education by other than property taxes. Early childhood education should be included in the package.


(Brad Swenson of The Bemidji Pioneer contributed to this story.)

What To Read Next
Get Local