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Wadena County caucuses draw smaller crowds Tuesday night

Wadena County Republicans chair Sheldon Monson explains the process of naming delegates for each precinct Tuesday night at the Wadena County Republicans caucus. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 2
Keri Jacobsen explains the agenda for the evening as attendees arrive for the Wadena County DFL caucus Tuesday night. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

Attendees of the Wadena County Democratic Farmer Labor and Wadena County Republicans caucuses both noted smaller attendance compared to 2016 at the meetings Tuesday night in Wadena.

Both party's members united at 7 p.m., the DFL party in the Wadena-Deer Creek High School commons and the Republicans at Pizza Ranch in Wadena. Thirteen southern Wadena County DFL precincts were gathered in Wadena and the total number of voting attendees there was 27. Meanwhile Wadena County Republican precincts met in four locations throughout the county, about 30 attended the meeting in Wadena.

Chairwoman for the DFL party was Keri Jacobsen. She noted that the group heard nine resolutions, with eight of those passing. The resolutions are amendments a local group can make to the party platform. Jacobsen noted those resolutions that passed included ones focused on the environment, farming, high-speed internet, "no further restrictions on abortions” after “parental consent” and “24-hour waiting period,” Medicaid for all, comprehensive sex education for public schools and maintaining strong township rights. One that did not pass was an attempt to remove caucuses and move straight to primary elections.

Jacobsen said while there was a smaller crowd, passionate people came out to vote and she still noted a few new people were in attendance.

Members took a straw poll vote on preference for Minnesota governor. Of the 27 votes, Rebecca Otto received the most (seven votes).

One attendee, Rita Askew, noted that she was very concerned about who the next governor would be for the state. She felt it was very important a Democrat filled the seat.

Republicans also saw a smaller crowd of about 30. Wadena County Republican chair Sheldon Monson said in 2016 the entire conference room was filled at Pizza Ranch and attendees spilled out into the dining area.

No one volunteered any resolutions for the Republicans.

A total of 71 votes were tallied from the four sites in the county for the governor preference vote. Jeff Johnson got the most votes in Wadena County (34), followed by Phillip Parrish (17), undecided (10), Mary Giuliani Stephens (8), Keith Downey (2) and Lance Johnson (0).

Many noted that former governor Tim Pawlenty was talking about running, but had not declared he would run, so he was not a part of the poll.

Monson said the large group that attended in 2016 mostly came to vote for Trump or against him. He felt the smaller turnout this year was because the caucus was about a month earlier than usual and because it was a midterm caucus.

Neither party had any speakers share their platform with the community members.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Print Journalism. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a reporter for the Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus since Nov. 2017.

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