The Minnesota Republican Party intends to keep the date for the precinct caucuses on Feb. 7. State law requires the caucuses to be held on that day but can be moved if the GOP and the DFL agree to change it. (Update: law requires public facilities to be made available to the parties that day. Parties can hold caucuses on other day but will have to pay for the expenses).
“As of right now we are scheduling for Feb. 7 and we have no plans to change that,” Westover said.
Minnesota’s precinct caucuses are scheduled to be held one day after Iowa’s precinct caucuses. That date, however, has been put into doubt after Republicans in Florida voted to hold that state’s primary on Jan. 31. That upset the early primary schedule set forth by the Republican National Committee that determined voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada will go first. The RNC has threatened to strip Florida from half of its delegates at the national convention if they continue with the move.
The reason Minnesota isn’t in violation is because the precinct caucuses are nonbinding.
“We are kosher as far as the party rules go,” Westover said. “Our delegates are not bound by the decisions that are not bound by the decisions made on Feb. 7.”
The party usually holds a straw poll on caucus night which could help Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s bid to be the GOP nominee.
Kristen Sosanie, with the DFL Party, says they are also planning to hold the precinct caucuses on Feb. 7. She said they asked the Democratic National Committee to approve the move and are waiting for a reply.
One potential problem with the early caucus date is how it will impact the state’s legislative races. It’s likely that candidates for the Minnesota House and Senate (and Congress) won’t know exactly where the boundaries of their districts are. That’s because the court appointed panel on redistricting won’t release its map until February 21. Candidates may be forced to organize for caucuses in precincts that they may not represent after the new lines are drawn.