GOP moves its caucuses to Super Tuesday 2008 to gain national clout

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2007 - 8:32 PM

The DFL is likely to follow suit, as both parties try for bigger roles in choosing presidential nominees.

Attention, politically active Minnesotans: You can mark Super Duper Tuesday, next Feb. 5, on your calendars.

As expected, the executive committee of the state's Republican Party this week approved moving its precinct caucuses from March 4 to Feb. 5, plunging the party into the maelstrom of a de facto national presidential primary, a day when more than two dozen states plan to hold contests that could all but determine major party nominees.

The DFL's central committee is expected to approve the same date shift.

"It'll give us a chance to be in the ballgame instead of sitting in the stands," said GOP spokesman Mark Drake. "We were in danger of being left behind again, so this certainly gives us a chance to play a much bigger role."

DFL chair Brian Melendez concurred about the decision, which both parties consulted on before going ahead. "We were both on the same page about this," he said. "It'll boost our importance."

Minnesota has long been a backwater in the nominating process, its caucuses coming too late in the election cycle to much matter. And that fact has been exacerbated during this cycle, as states have scrambled to front-load the primary and caucus calender as never before.

Following Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses Jan. 14, contests will be held in quick succession in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida. Then, on Feb 5, also known as Tsunami Tuesday, comes the deluge, including primaries in the delegate-rich states of New York and California.

Although the sheer volume of the delegate haul on that day could diminish Minnesota's importance, the fact that it has emerged as a battleground state during the past two presidential elections could increase its importance on Feb. 5.

Even though the March 4 caucus date is set by statute, courts in other states have ruled that legislatures can't stand in the way of political parties setting their own calendars.

Drake and Melendez said they hope the new caucus date will increase excitement -- and turnout on a cold winter night -- among each party's faithful .

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