In Minnesota State Senate District 62, here’s who’s on the ballot in the DFL primary:
So heyyyyyyyyyyyy, my fellow Minnesotans, as you (hopefully) know, this year we have a PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY (which I will write about shortly) THAT IS HAPPENING AS AN ACTUAL ELECTION ON MARCH 3RD. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to casting a ballot for my preferred Democrat at my usual polling place, it’s going to be so great.
But! Caucuses are still happening, and you can still go. They’re happening on February 25th, and you can find the location of yours via the Secretary of State caucus finder page. Note that the Republican and Democratic caucuses take place on the same night but (usually) in very different locations. Do not go to the Republican caucus and then look around for the DFL caucus; you will not find it.
Caucuses are basically the grassroots-level party meeting for the political parties. Things you can do at a DFL caucus (I think you can also do most of these at a GOP caucus but I’ve never gone):
- You can introduce a resolution, which is forwarded up the chain and used to write and revise the state party platform.
- You can often meet elected officials and candidates, and hear them speak.
- You can often sign up to hold office within your local party unit. (In theory you “run” for these jobs but in practice you usually “raise your hand when they ask who’s interested.”)
- You can often sign up to be a delegate to your Senate District convention, where you’ll have the opportunity to endorse candidates for State House and State Senate, and elect delegates to go to the State DFL convention (and, ultimately, the Democratic National convention).
In my opinion, it’s the opportunity to be a delegate to your Senate District convention that is the main reason to go — at least if there’s an open seat, or a challenger. The DFL endorsement has historically been extremely powerful in legislative races, and it’s the Senate District conventions where these endorsements are given or denied.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike this system. But if you have the time and wherewithal to go to your Senate District convention, it’ll be you with the outsized piece of political influence. Which might be an improvement. Or you could go and do your best to block endorsement; that’s also an option. (Here’s my Beginner’s Guide to Senate District Conventions, for those who need it.)
There are a number of vacancies this year, as well as incumbents with challengers. (Here’s a handy article from MinnPost with a list of who they know is running.) Below, you will find my best attempt at a guide to whether your Senate District convention (which also includes the conventions for your State House district, as a convention-within-the-convention) is likely to be worth attending.
A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT NOTES.
- I based my “is this person opposed?” mostly on that MinnPost article. For any open seat, expect additional people to join the race.
- If you become a delegate and the endorsement is contested, you will be contacted by everyone running. They will all either call you or show up at your house to knock on your door, or both. Some people find this intrusive. I really like it: it means I get to chat with the actual candidates and ask them all my questions. But mileage varies here.
- I do not write up races prior to endorsement. You’ll have to do your own research. Which should be easy enough because the candidates will literally be knocking on your doors. Ask them your questions!
- If you want to go to your Senate District convention and can’t make it to your caucus, you can send in a form asking to be made a delegate in absentia. There’s a decent chance you’ll at least get to be an alternate.
Of course, the Senate District convention is basically an all-day event, and are you even available? I have included dates and location information. (Many thanks to the person who sent me the spreadsheet after I complained on Twitter about this information not being available.)
Senate District 59
Senator Bobby Joe Champion
59A Rep Fue Lee
59B Rep Raymond Dehn
When is the SD 59 convention? March 28th, convening at 9:30 a.m., North Community High School (Jacobi Gym).
Senate District 60
Senator Kari Dziedzic
60A Rep Sydney Jordan
60B Rep Mohamud Noor
Is anyone here being challenged? Given that Sydney was elected last month after an 11-person special primary, it seems really likely that she’ll be challenged, but no one’s listed in the MinnPost article.
When is the SD 60 convention? April 18, convening at 9 a.m., Edison High School.
Senate District 61
Senator Scott Dibble
61A Rep Frank Hornstein
61B Rep Jamie Long
Is anyone here being challenged? If so, I found no information about challengers when I looked.
When is the SD 61 convention? March 21st, at Washburn High School.
Senate District 62
Senator Jeff Hayden
62A Rep Hodan Hassan
62B Rep Aisha Gomez
When is the SD 62 convention? March 28th, 9 a.m., at South High School.
Senate District 63
Senator Patricia Torres Ray
63A Rep Jim Davnie
63B Rep Jean Wagenius
Is anyone here being challenged? Jean Wagenius is not running again, and there are at least five people running for her seat: Husniyah Dent Bradley, Jerome Evans, Eric Ferguson, Emma Greenman, and Tyler Moroles.
When is the Senate District Convention? April 19th, 11 a.m., Sanford Middle School.
Senate District 64
Senator Dick Cohen
64A Rep Kaohly Her
64B Rep Dave Pinto
Is anyone here being challenged? After being challenged by Erin Murphy, Dick Cohen decided not to run again. At the moment, she appears to be the only person running for the seat, and possibly no one who might be interested is going to bother challenging her for the endorsement.
When is the Senate District convention? March 15th, 1 p.m., Central High School.
Senate District 65
Senator Sandy Pappas
65A Rep Rena Moran
65B Rep Carlos Mariani
Is anyone here being challenged? Not according to the MinnPost article.
When is the Senate District convention? March 14th, 10 a.m., St. Paul Central High.
Senate District 66
Senator John Marty
66A Rep Alice Hausman
66B Rep John Lesch
When is the Senate District convention? Saturday, April 11th, 9 a.m., at Washington Tech high school.
Senate District 67
Senator Foung Hawj
67A Rep Tim Mahoney
67B Rep Jay Xiong
When is the Senate District convention? March 28th, 9:30 a.m., Harding High School.
The candidates for my State Senate seat are Dick Cohen (DFL) and Ian Baird (Republican).
Dick Cohen, the Senator from my current district, has been in the Minnesota legislature since 1976. He’s not as old as you might think — he got elected for the first time when he was ridiculously young, and so he’s younger than my father. But since 1976, my father has lived in four different cities and worked at four separate universities, despite being a faculty member (who, as everyone knows, typically get tenure somewhere and stay there basically forever). In those same forty years Dick Cohen has stayed in St. Paul, and in the legislature. (He did move from the House to the Senate ten years in.) I will admit some mixed feelings about legislators who serve for this long.
But he’s kept up with the times and has been a hard-working, reliable progressive vote.
Ian Baird looks about eighteen to me. His biography talks about his parents’ dairy business and says, “Today I work as a theater artist and carpenter. I’ve worked on shows ranging from Les Miserables to, well, shows you’ve never heard of.” This got me curious and I went looking for his CV. Most theater professionals make it really easy to find them, via a listing like this one on Minnesota Playlist. Or a website. Or a LinkedIn page. I turned up a LinkedIn page that might be Ian’s; I’m not sure. It’s even more pathetic than my LinkedIn page. I did find a CV that might be his here. If it’s his, he graduated college in 2013, so that explains why he looks so ridiculously young.
He also probably went here: https://unwsp.edu/ (I’m not 100% sure because there are a number of academic institutions named Northwestern. This is based in part on what I found on the LinkedIn page.) This is a small, weird, very conservative, very Christian college. They also emphasize career-oriented degrees, so the fact that he emerged with a History degree and a Theater minor is kind of fascinating.
He also doesn’t appear to have turned out the sort of Christian his parents were probably hoping for when they sent him off to school, given that his “About” page that goes with the CV includes the observation that “Religion, like performance, offers a place for people to hide from the reality of who they are.”
Working my way to his actual campaign: his positions include “why do we pay for trains when I never ride them,” “I’ve heard lots of horror stories about education,” and “paid leave legislation is bad.” He’s also pro-transparency (fair), thought the police officer who shot Philando Castile should be tried (yay), and has nothing much to say either on his campaign website or his campaign Facebook page about the GOP’s social positions. His Facebook page also mentions that he’s pro-fireworks and views himself as the candidate for fans of Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. (I am fond of Ron as a character, but have never said to myself, “wow, I wish I could have him represent me in the legislature.” I’d totally vote for Knope, though.)
Unclear: whether he’s reflected at all on the fact that most of the people in his party view arts funding the way he views trains, or the fact that most of the people in his profession are heavily dependent on health care plans set up by Democrats.
Anyway, it’s an interesting picture. Not someone I’d vote for, but I wish Ian success in his life as a Theater artist and I hope he’s gained financial independence from his parents, because I bet they are a lot more conservative than he is.
Everyone else should vote for the progressive dinosaur!