By Tara Fugate
MNA Strategic Researcher
Moving from Michigan to Minnesota has brought me many new experiences, from trying my first Hot Dish to navigating the State Fair. After living in this state for a year, I am still discovering new things daily. My most recent Minnesota “firsts” were trips to my local precinct caucus and my senate district convention. Unlike Minnesota, my native Michigan does not use party caucuses or conventions. This process was entirely new to me as was the importance of getting involved with the DFL party on a local level. Having never participated in caucuses before, the road to the state DFL convention seemed overwhelming and complicated. Then I met gubernatorial candidate Representative Erin Murphy, and I knew that I not only wanted to, but also needed to get involved. Going to a first caucus can seem intimidating. After attending some webinar trainings created by the expert political team at MNA, I felt informed about the process. I felt ready to take on not only my local precinct caucus and the dreaded “walking sub-caucus,” which I attended after making it as a delegate to my senate district convention.
Despite my preparation, understanding the process and living the experience are two very separate things. My senate district convention was particularly eye opening. I was impressed by the dedication and passion of my neighbors. It was encouraging to see grassroots level participation in selecting the DFL nominee. While several delegates elected to move on to the state convention in my district were yet undecided on a candidate (with plenty of Erin Murphy supporters too), it was clear that we were all focused on many of the same issues. A significant number of sub-caucus groups that formed were centered on support for Single Payer healthcare, education issues, and fending off “Right to Work” in Minnesota. As anyone who has been to a senate district convention knows, they can seem never-ending, and mine was no exception. By the end of the day I was tired, hungry, and admittedly very cranky. However, I couldn’t be happier about the experience. I was encouraged by the willingness of my neighbors to engage in tough conversations in order for us all to push forward.
I look forward to experiencing the rest of the democratic process here in Minnesota and remain hopeful for the 2018 gubernatorial race.