Minnesota's McLeod county is a good test of a candidates strength- one end of the county includes Minneapolis suburbs while the other end is cows and cornfields. In between you'll find a couple medium sized towns with some industry rubbing shoulders with the grain elevators and feed stores. If any county is a good early test of the relative strengths of Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor Party candidates for the U.S. senate, this is it. We just had our caucuses last tuesday, and over the next couple months the the delegates chosen at the precinct caucuses will attend county conventions and pick delegates to the state convention which endorses the Dem candidate for U.S. Senate. A couple counties are already holding conventions this weekend, but McLeod is the most representative of Minnesota's demographics and being that they did the classic "Minnesota Walking Subcaucus" we got an actual measure of the candidate's appeal with the delegates.
Admittedly, Al Franken got the most delegates, but just barely. Of the 80 odd delegates from the precinct caucuses, I heard a count of 35 subcaucusing for Franken, 31 for Mike Ciresi, and 17 for Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. With 6 delegates to be proportionally divided between the subcaucuses, Franken got 3 delegates to Ciresi's 2 only by virtue of mathematical rounding up, with Nelson-Pallmeyer earning 1,
The dynamics of the convention were even more revealing of Franken's weakness. After hearing the 3 candidates speak several uncommitted delegates put on Ciresi stickers and Nelson-Pallmeyer won over a few too. In the first round of subcaucusing there was an uncommitted subcaucus, but they didn't have enough folks to be viable. Both Franken and Ciresi spoke to the uncommitteds, and almost every one of them joined the Ciresi subcaucus. As we have seen before, the more folks hear Franken the more they see through his rambling monologs and poor command of the issues. The more they hear Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer the more they appreciate these candidates deeper understanding and appreciation of the issues.
Most telling was the candidate choice of the handful of 18 year olds, there as precinct level delegates to their first convention. All but one joined the Ciresi subcaucus... so much for Ciresi being the "old guard" candidate! Clearly, this is a wide open race all the way to the state Democratic Farmer Labor Party convention, with Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer gaining momentum as Franken fades.