Guest Column: Get involved; be a part of picking the candidates

Published 6:45 pm Monday, September 4, 2017

My Point of View, By Ebenezer Howe

I had the opportunity to work a shift at the Minnesota Republican Party state fair booth twice this year. Once for 1st Congressional District day on Aug. 27, and on Labor Day, representing the Republican Liberty Caucus. At the state fair, as at the Freeborn County Fair, we conducted a corn poll for governor preference. The Republican Party now has eight and DFL has six candidates running for governor, and I am sure more will join the race before it is over. Each party may endorse a candidate to run in the primary or may choose not to endorse prior to the primary if there is no overwhelming favorite. It takes 60 percent of the delegates at the state convention to win endorsement.

Ebenezer Howe

The most common questions I got at both fairs were regarding Trump — “What kind of job do you think he is doing? Can he outlast the biased media?” Yes, I think he is doing an OK job. I think he baits the media and gets things done while he has them looking the other way. He has a lot more support from the people than the media gives him credit for. Of all the folks I talked to, he had the support of at least 90 percent of them. He is a problem solver — when he sees something he doesn’t like, he tries to fix it. I don’t always think he has the best solution but he is always headed in the right direction.

I am sure that at least once between now and general Election Day 14 months from now, someone will say “With over 5 million people in Minnesota, why don’t we have better choices to vote for? The candidates are just picked by the party establishment anyway.” That is true! But, who is the party establishment? They are the people who show up and get involved.

Why would a person want to be part of the establishment? Two main reasons are 1) you are maybe thinking of running for office in the future so you will need to know these folks and 2) you want a hand in picking who ends up being selected as candidates. If you were thinking of running, you will need help from the establishment to get any traction. The best way to get that help would to become part of the establishment first. You certainty want to be involved in candidate selection if you think your world view never gets a fair hearing. Just ask the Ron Paul supporters of a few years ago. Are you satisfied with the support Trump is getting from those currently elected?

How does a person become part of the establishment? Minnesota is a caucus state and the two-year cycle starts and ends with the caucus. Just show up at the caucus in February of even years and become active in party functions. An even better way would be to find an active party member and attend a meeting with them. There you will find a host of opportunities to be of use. There are most generally committees with openings for people willing to work even just an hour a month. This would also be the way to learn how the process works.

The caucus in February of even years is organized and run by the people who were elected at conventions held in the prior odd year. The caucus is at the precinct level where delegates are elected to attend the next higher level or Basic Political Organizational Unit (BPOU) conventions. Outstate Minnesota is organized at the county level, thus the Freeborn County Republican Party is a BPOU. In the metro area, BPOU’s are organized by House district or Senate district.

2018 caucus to election
calendar for Republicans

1. Caucus: Feb. 6

2. BPOU convention window: Feb. 19-March 31

3. CD1 (District) convention window: April 14-May 12

4. State convention: June 1-2

5. Primary: Aug. 14

6. General election: Nov. 8th

Now, if you want some input on who ends up running, you have to be part of the convention that votes to endorse candidates. Keep in mind that the endorsed candidate can be beaten in a primary, as Governor Dayton did in 2010. Remember, he was not the DFL candidate with the endorsement — he beat her in the primary.

Attend the caucus in February and get yourself elected as delegate from your precinct. Then attend the BPOU convention and campaign to be elected a delegate to both district and state conventions. Then you can be part of the establishment that picks candidates.

If you don’t do the above, you have no one to blame but yourself if you are dissatisfied with choices at election time.

Alden resident Ebenezer Howe is chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the local party members.