Minnesota joins Feb. 5 ‘national primary’

Minnesota became the latest state to move both of its major-party presidential contests to Feb. 5, as the state Democratic Party central committee announced Tuesday that it voted overwhelmingly to join Republicans in moving up the state’s presidential caucuses.

Almost 90 percent of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) Central Committee voted to switch the caucus date, which had previously been in early March.

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The GOP moved up its caucuses last month. The state parties maintain control over their nominating contests, despite an earlier attempt to move up the contests through legislative action.

They still might ask the state to pass legislation so that public buildings will be mandated to be available for the caucuses.

“Earlier caucuses will give Minnesotans a greater say in who will be the next president of the United States and will hopefully engage more Minnesotans in grassroots politics,” Minnesota DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said. “We are pleased that the Republican Party has joined in this move, and we look forward to promoting the new dates.”

 

Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey told The Hill that the party was mostly interested in the change for the purpose of increasing participation in the process. He said the caucuses could triple turnout to around 50,000.

“To me, that was the primary goal of moving the caucuses forward,” Carey said. “It helps both Democrats and the Republicans.”

Nearly half of the 50 states will be holding their contests on Feb. 5, while Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida will hold theirs in the preceding weeks.

Last weekend, Florida drew a rebuke from the Democratic National Committee for moving its primary to Jan. 29. Most states risk losing delegates if they move their contests before Feb. 5.

Also in the past week, the Michigan state Senate voted to move its primary to Jan. 15.