Minnesota's two leading political parties are both opening campaign field offices throughout the state, as they get ready for a 2014 election cycle with statewide races and what's expected to be a hard-fought battle for control of the state House on tap.
Field offices are tasked with mobilizing volunteers and motivating voter turnout through phone calls and other organizing.
The DFL announced Thursday it has opened 18 field offices in locations throughout Minnesota. Several of the metro-area offices are hosting official openings in the next few days, including the Saturday opening of a Minneapolis office that's scheduled to include Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Keith Ellison.
In addition to three Twin Cities-area sites, Democrats are also opening offices in Albert Lea, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Virginia and Willmar.
State GOP Chairman Keith Downey held a press conference on Thursday to lay out some of his party's plans for spreading its message around Minnesota. Republicans plan to open 20 field offices, or what they are calling "victory centers," throughout Minnesota.
The party already has offices set up in Rochester, Woodbury, Mankato, St. Cloud, Marshall, Eagan, Golden Valley, Blaine, Waconia and Bloomington. Downey said the party was on track to open offices in Bemidji, Grand Rapids, North Branch, Duluth and Brainerd in the coming weeks.
For Republicans, the breadth of field offices is a significant expansion. Downey said two years ago the party had just one office in each of the state's eight congressional districts.
This year, the party needs to start its fight earlier -- Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson will have to survive a four-way August primary before he could face Dayton in November.
"Every single one of these victory offices will be working to make sure that Jeff Johnson will be successful in the primary and in the general election," said Republican Party Deputy Chair Chris Fields.