The top leaders of the Minnesota Republican and DFL parties are joining together for a rare joint message: amid the lingering Super Bowl frenzy, don't forget to go out and caucus on Tuesday night.
Precinct caucus meetings will be held at more than 4,000 locations throughout the state Tuesday evening, the first major organizing step for this year's state elections.
At a joint news conference Monday at the Capitol, state DFL Chairman Ken Martin and GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan agreed that races in Minnesota this year are likely to impact the national political landscape.
"The 2018 election will determine the direction of our state and our country for years to come. Minnesota will be the epicenter of the 2018 political election, and precinct caucuses are where it all begins," Martin said.
DFL and Republican activists will gather to start choosing delegates and alternates to upcoming state conventions, establish platforms and vote in a nonbinding straw poll for the governor's race.
Both parties will have six candidates on their governor's race straw poll ballots. Caucus participants can vote for those in the field or say they are undecided, but no write-ins are allowed. Results from the poll will be released later in the evening.
Martin said the caucuses are important for campaigns to flex their "political muscle" ahead of state party conventions.
"The campaigns that come out of caucus night with the largest amount of votes in the straw poll are probably best positioned going into those delegate conventions," he said.
Though Martin voiced concern that the Super Bowl overshadowed awareness of the caucuses, both chairs said they expect Minnesotans to show up on Tuesday.
"I think that turnout will be decent for tomorrow night. There's so much at stake in this 2018 election," Carnahan said.
Carnahan expressed optimism about Republicans' 2018 election prospects, and said those who voted for President Donald Trump have shifted their enthusiasm to the state races. She also addressed talk of a possible gubernatorial bid by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, which she said would "add a new dimension to the Republican side."
Carnahan also announced that Trump told her he would visit Minnesota later this year, and that she expects Vice President Mike Pence to make a stop even sooner.
Martin embraced the potential visit, and said it would "fire up" DFLers.
Ryan Faircloth is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.