Sanders, Clinton can expect 'a real brawl' in Minnesota

If you haven’t heard much about the Minnesota caucuses, that’s all about to change. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have already campaigned here, and Sanders returned to the Twin Cities airwaves Thursday with a fresh ad blitz.

“As of right now we’ve made 300,000 attempts and opened up direct lines of communication and had conversations with approximately 30,000 Minnesotans,” said Robert Dempsey, Minnesota director of the Bernie Sanders campaign. “So, we’ve been actually at this for some time and that underscores the importance that Minnesota has to our national strategy.”

But it’s vitally important to Hillary Clinton, too, and it means Minnesota will not be a fly-over state for Super Tuesday.

“This is going to be a tight fight in Minnesota,” said Prof. Larry Jacobs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “Bernie Sanders has quite a bit of enthusiasm among the progressives, but Hillary Clinton has got the Mondale wing of the DFL behind her. This includes the governor and many of the DFL leaders, so I think we can expect a real brawl.” 

Clinton’s campaign learned from the 2008 caucuses that, in order to win in Minnesota, they have to be organized. The Clinton ground game began last April, and her state director says the biggest challenge for both campaigns is getting supporters to actually attend a caucus.

“Historically, participation is lower,” said Scott Hogan. “From our vantage point, our strength is statewide. We want as many people, not just here in the Cities, but on the Range and in Greater Minnesota, to show up in large numbers on March 1.” 

Starting Thursday, you’re likely to see Hillary Clinton ads on the air. As for the Republicans, Ted Cruz’s state director said he believes it will likely be a two-man race heading into Super Tuesday between Cruz and Donald Trump. Minnesota has 36 GOP delegates up for grabs -- delegates that the candidates get to keep for the national convention in Cleveland.