ST PAUL, Minn. — Every four years journalists from across the nation and the world converge on a few states to cover aspiring, largely untested candidates fighting to gain some momentum in the presidential sweepstakes.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, aka the DFL, is pushing hard to make Minnesota one of those early presidential primary states that attract candidates and coverage.
Most of the state's top Democrats made the pitch in person Thursday to the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee in Washington, DC. The Minnesota delegation promoted the state's high voter turnout and growing diversity as good reasons the road to the White House in 2024 should make an early stop here.
"Minnesota is one of the fastest growing states in the Midwest and becoming more diverse every day," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan told the panel.
"Between 2010 and 2018 the state added five times as many people of color as non-Hispanic white residents. Notably, Minnesota has welcomed immigrants and refugees with open arms for a very long time."
Flanagan was joined by Attorney General Keith Ellison, Secretary of State Steve Simon, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and DFL Chair Ken Martin. They chose Prince's iconic tune "Let's Go Crazy" as their walk-out music for a 15-minute presentation that was carried live on the DNC YouTube channel.
"Minnesota is one of the few states left in this former 'Blue Wall' of the Midwest, partly because we continue to win in the suburbs, the exurbs and in rural Minnesota, rural America," Rep. Craig told the committee.
She said 15% of Democratic votes in Minnesota come from rural areas, compared to the national average of just 9%.
"Candidates that build a strong coalition that bring together all of these different groups in Minnesota will be incredibly well position to win not only in Minnesota but across America."
Minnesota is a finalist for one of the first five states to hold primaries, but 15 other states and Puerto Rico are also in the hunt. Those states include Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- four states that have traditionally dominated the early phases of campaign season.
The DNC rules panel will make a final decision on primary dates in August.
Ken Martin assured the group that the state's Republicans would endorse the idea of becoming an early primary state. Former Senator Norm Coleman, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber and several former Minnesota Republican Party leaders have already signed onto the effort.
Minnesota's 2020 presidential primary was held in early March as part of the Super Tuesday lineup. It was the first real presidential preference primary operated by the state after decades of straw polls held at precinct caucuses run by political parties.
Some of the drama was taken out of that contest because favorite daughter candidate Amy Klobuchar left the race a couple days before the primary and threw her support to Joe Biden who went on to win Minnesota on Super Tuesday. President Trump, running unopposed, took the GOP primary.
The DNC panel members had a lot of questions about snow, specifically whether roads and airports could be cleared in a hurry if a blizzard were to strike on election day. Martin assured the committee that Minnesota has a lot of experience clearing roads and runways after major snow events.
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