Tonight, at hundreds of sites across Minnesota, partisans will gather with their neighbors to debate the big issues in their parties, rally for their favorite candidates and begin the process of picking people to move up through the political process.
A Republican straw poll for U.S. Senate and governor was one of the focuses of the evening.
In early results, Marty Seifert had about a third of the votes, topping the other field of GOP candidates vying to replace DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Seifert, a former state representative who ran for governor in 2010, was the last entrant into the governor's race. State Sen. Dave Thompson, one of the first candidates in the race, was in second with about a quarter of the votes.
Republican state Sen. Julianne Ortman, of Chanhassen, also captured a little under a third of straw poll votes that had been reported shortly after 10 p.m. leading all other candidates in the race. Businessman Mike McFadden was pulling a second place with about a quarter of the votes.
The results are expected to continue to trickle in through the night.
Meanwhile, there was a very tense night at a caucus site in Minneapolis where DFLer Mohamud Noor is challenging longtime DFL state Rep. Phyllis Kahn.
With 300 people at the Bryan Coyle Center, a fight broke out and people rushed the stage. After the melee, the Minneapolis police shut down the caucus.
The Star Tribune's Eric Roper reported:
"There was an argument about who was controlling the meeting, as far as I could tell," said Park Board commissioner Scott Vreeland, who tried to break up the fight. "And then there was kind of a rush forward of folks that wanted something different."
The altercation over who would chair the event took place before any delegates were elected. Two women outside the meeting said that an aide for council member Andrew Johnson, Ilham Omar, was attacked.
"She was attacked," Johnson said in an interview. "She’s got some bruises and cuts but she’s going to be fine."
A handful of police quickly started dispersing the crowd, telling people to leave the building. The event, which began around 7 p.m., was over by 7:40 p.m.
It appears the two people running to chair the meeting were Mohamed Jama and Zamzam Ali. "I'm speechless," Ali said outside the gymnasium.
Corey Day, executive director of the DFL, said the precinct elects 44 delegates out of about 700 in the House district.
"I have no clue exactly why this transpired," Day said. "I'm just as shocked as you guys. I really just want to talk to the folks at the party and figure out how we're going to resolve this."
Tuesday night also featured:
- Political resolutions on PolyMet's proposed mining project in northern Minnesota, minimum wage, guns, Sunday liquor sales and campaign finance.
- Sorting through candidates in an open House seat in heavily DFL House district in St. Paul.
- A Republican challenge to GOP U.S. Rep. John Kline began in earnest.