State Rep. Peggy Flanagan speaking at a campaign event. She tweets: “My fav photo from our kickoff. I’m running for my little girl and all girls who deserve to be seen, heard, and valued.”(Photo via Twitter.)
The November election seems far off. It’s almost a year away, right? Sorry. Elections are a series of steps that lead to that moment when ballots are actually counted.
This is Trahant Reports.
Voters in Minnesota this week will caucus at the precinct level. It’s a meeting that is run by the political parties. There are two important things that happen at these precinct-level meetings. First there will be a “preference” vote for governor. The winner of that poll could use it to help raise money and suggest a larger base of support. The second thing is the election of delegates to the state convention. This is a big deal. Because in Minnesota state party delegates will later endorse a candidate.
A precinct caucus can be won by a small group. Basically if someone decides to take a bunch of friends to a meeting — that could change everything. That’s especially true in this year’s election because both parties have so many candidates running.
There are nine Republicans running in their party caucus. Last week former Gov. Tim Pawlenty signaled that he might try one more time.
Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party has six plus candidates, a mayor, three legislators, a state auditor, and a member of Congress.
Rep. Tim Walz is campaigning with his pick for Lt. Gov, State Rep. Peggy Flanagan. Flanagan is a member of the White Earth band of Ojibwe. She would be the first Native American woman to hold this office.
It is unusual for a team to be put together so early in the process, but it’s also an opportunity for voters to see what an administration would look like. And for the team to balance each other in terms of interest and perception.
That’s already been an issue.
Rebecca Otto, the state auditor and a DFL candidate for governor, is running to be the most progressive candidate. In a fundraising letter she said she has “strong disagreements” with Walz because he voted for Keystone XL three times in Congress, supports the Enbridge Pipeline and “he says he does not oppose the DAPL pipeline.” As is often the case, the story is more complicated than that.
It’s true that Walz voted for Keystone, but he also has said that if any pipeline negatively impacts Native people, violates treaty rights, or disturbs burial grounds, it should not be built.
That’s where Peggy Flanagan comes in. Should Walz be elected, Flanagan would be there to make the case. She would be inside the room. She might win the day. She might not. But she’ll be there for four years pushing and reminding Walz about the importance of Native issues. Including pipelines.
Tuesday’s precinct caucus will be a test not only of Flanagan but that of voters from Native communities in Minnesota. It’s the perfect forum for Indian Country because even a small group of people can carry the day.
I am Mark Trahant.