Daily Reformer: Caucus Day. Does anyone care? They should.

Malik Gaillard, 21, second from right, shares a laugh with organizer Brian Fullman at The Chiseler Barber and Beauty Shop in Brooklyn Park. Fullman worked for months to get young people to caucus. (Photo by Courtney Perry)

Good morning. 

Today is caucus day. With next week’s presidential primary, expect turnout to be way down, which means it’s a big opportunity for activist groups to win power if they’re organized. 

Here’s how former DFL operative and current PR executive Todd Rapp put it: 

“With Super Tuesday just a week later, these caucuses may be sparsely attended (almost invisible?) yet they will elect the delegates who will choose the endorsed candidates in dozens of open legislative seats and contested party primaries.  I don’t have an answer to this, but my question is … who are the 3-5 interest groups who have ignored presidential politics but put their resources into high caucus turnout? They will have a remarkable impact on the makeup of the legislative races this fall.”

We won’t know the answer to that until tonight, but we’ll be paying close attention. Follow Ricardo Lopez @rljourno for updates and his piece tomorrow on how groups have organized for the caucus. 

If you’re new to this, the basic structure is that people get elected from their precinct caucuses to go to a Senate district and then on to the congressional and state convention. Legislative candidates will win party endorsements through this process, and activists will get a chance to pass resolutions that can turn into platform planks. 

The progressive interdenominational group Faith in Minnesota is already hyping expectations. From a release: 

“The state-wide, faith-based grassroots organization Faith in Minnesota has trained over 1,700 people to turn out 5,000 people to participate in Minnesota’s precinct caucuses.”

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will announce a farm safety proposal today at 10. He’ll caucus tonight for former Rep. Erin Murphy, who is running for state Senate and was his one-time opponent in the 2018 race for the DFL nomination. Walz got a good number in the Strib poll. 

Go Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer! End daylight saving time! Today in Senate Local Govt at 8:30. Full legislative schedule.

Hey Sanders supporters: Despite the claims of your candidate, there’s been no wave of new voters that he says will deliver victory in the fall. Hope you have an answer for that. 

Also, as of not that long ago, a majority of Americans were satisfied with their private health insurance: Gallup

(Though if they read Rep. Jen Schultz’s piece that we ran Monday, they’d know the value of insurance is declining and eating into their wage growth.)

We’ve also been doing some anti-vaxx reporting recently; here’s a good older piece from Politico about how the movement wormed its way into the Republican mainstream. Here’s Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka at their rally last week: 

“We vaccinated all of our kids, however it was our choice. Well I could only state for Senate Republicans that I don’t know if there’s anybody in our caucus that doesn’t think that parents should have the choice and make the decisions that they think are best for them. So I just want you to know that we have your back.”

I’m reminded of an infamous statement on the floor of the Nevada Assembly, I believe about a motorcycle helmet law: “It’s every Nevadans’ God given right to be an idiot.” 

Speaking of … Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, a Virginia politico, asked Twitter for help Monday and it did not inspire much confidence in this administration’s ability to stem the coronavirus problem: 

“Has the Johns Hopkins map of the coronavirus stopped working for other people, or just me?”  

Then he added: “I just tried again, and it looks like Johns Hopkins put the information behind a membership wall of some kind. Seems like bad timing to stop helping the world with this (previously) useful resource. Here’s hoping it goes back up soon.”

Here’s hoping he’s not in charge of stopping the virus from spreading. After decades of anti-government rhetoric, there’s an ignorance among some about what government does, why it’s important and how competent many government workers are under difficult circumstances. Consider the U.S. Dept. of Energy as portrayed in this great piece by Michael Lewis.  

One-time Republican and now moderate anti-Trump columnist Jennifer Rubin, who has written very positively about Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the past, now writes a brutal piece arguing it’s time for Klobuchar to get out of the race. 

“She is leading in no state except her own, has no perceptible support among nonwhite voters and has no realistic path to the nomination. … I say this as someone who thinks Klobuchar’s pragmatic politics is precisely the right formula for her party and the country. I have found her spunky debate performances impressive. But voters are saying she is not their top pick — or even their second, third, fourth or fifth in virtually all states. She has run a spirited race, but continuing on at this rate will only diminish her brand and help elect a candidate she has pointed out is exactly the wrong person to defeat Trump. Those close to her need to deliver some tough love.”

I talked to a deflated political operative last week who spoke about how the media and public attention are too much for politicians. It messes with their heads, as it would anyone. He doesn’t have a fix for it. 

Metallica, “The Memory Remains”: “Fortune, fame, mirror vain, gone insane.”

As Wall Street gets jittery about coronavirus, Tyler Cowen explains how the kinds of global supply chains we rely on now may be strong but they are not indestructible and could collapse rapidly. 

Today on the Reformer: 

Our intrepid southwest Minnesota correspondent Ruthe Thompson reports from Marshall on litigation over a rainbow flag in the middle school cafeteria. Some conservative Christian pastors have threatened to sue.  

And we have an excerpt from longtime labor reporter Steven Greenhouse’s book “Beaten Down, Fired Up,” which features Mary Catherine Ricker as a Saint Paul labor leader. The short excerpt is certainly sympathetic to Ricker and unintentionally reveals just how close Gov. Tim Walz is to the teachers union given that Ricker now serves as his commissioner of the Department of Education. 

Correspond: [email protected] 

Have a great day everyone! JPC