MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The political machines are in full operation as we head toward the New Hampshire primaries on Tuesday, and Minnesota's big day comes in about three weeks on “Super Tuesday.”
The democratic candidates will not be ignoring Minnesota. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will both be in the state this week. And they likely won’t be the only visitors.
“Minnesota is about in the middle of the pack when you look at it. We’re smaller than Texas or Virginia or Tennessee, but we’re larger than Vermont and some of the other states. So we’re right in the middle of the pack, but when you only have four states before that, and twelve states on that day, we’re really going to matter, Brian McClung, a political strategist, told Fox 9.
Candidates competing for Minnesota votes will have an eleven-day window between the New Hampshire primary, and the Democratic caucus in Nevada and Republican primary in South Carolina. McClung says it is between these dates of February 9th and 20th when Minnesota will see the most candidates.
A new rule could also attract candidates: Republican votes will be binding for Republican delegates.
“For Republicans, we had typically voted in what was called a presidential preference ballot, but it wasn’t binding, so it was more like a straw poll. This year, for the first time in Minnesota history, that Republican preference ballot is binding. It will select the delegates to the Republican National Convention,” McClung said.
McClung expects fewer Republican candidates to still be in the running by the time Minnesota votes.
“I think by the time we get to Minnesota and March 1st, we’ll have had votes in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. So that’s what’s really going to narrow the field. So I think by the time they get to Minnesota, as opposed to the 8 or 9 or 10 who are in it right now, we’ll be down to 4 or 5,” McClung told Fox 9.
McClung said all campaigns have infrastructure in place in Minnesota that will increase significantly following the votes in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. However, he said there is one exception: he has not seen anything yet in Minnesota from the Donald Trump campaign.
On the Democratic side, both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders return to attend the Humphrey-Mondale dinner this Friday. That same day, Sanders will visit north Minneapolis for what's being called a "Presidential Forum on Black America,” hosted by Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. The event is from 3:00 to 4:00 at Capri Theater. Clinton has not said whether she’ll attend the event.
“It's incredibly important. We're finding this year, due to some of the activism on the ground, online and in big cities, we're finding that these candidates are actually starting to make issues front and center,” said Ron Harris, a leader on economic policy for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, said.
“I’ve never seen presidential candidates come in and talk about race so specifically and making this issue front and center in their campaigns. And it means a lot because these are the issues we’ve been going through, the black community’s been going through, since we arrived on this continent,” Harris continued.