Sanders, Rubio win Minnesota caucuses

Bernie Sanders thanks the audience after addressing a crowd at the Hibbing High School auditorium on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (PHOTO: Wes Bailey)

Bernie Sanders thanks the audience after addressing a crowd at the Hibbing High School auditorium on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (PHOTO: Wes Bailey)

bandiera MinnesotaOn the night of Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic caucuses in Minnesota, while Marco Rubio won the Republican contest.

Sure, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton sailed to victory in eight of 12 other contests around the nation. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump racked up the most delegates as well. But Minnesota provided a symbolic victory for two guys fighting for their political lives.

Sanders put a lot of effort into winning the Minnesota caucuses, holding three rallies in different parts of the state in the days leading up to the caucuses. Clinton made an appearance in the state Tuesday morning.

As precinct results poured in Tuesday night, Sanders rolled up big numbers, handily winning the Democratic caucus. Turnout seemed high. My precinct broke a record, and robust participation was also reported at other locations around the Iron Range.

Meanwhile, in his only win to date, Rubio won the Republican caucuses in Minnesota, showing that a state party united against its frontrunner Donald Trump can deliver a caucus win after all. GOP turnout was also reportedly very high.

Virtually the whole GOP party organization united behind Rubio, who put up big numbers — particularly in the suburbs. Minnesota has a strong evangelical community that always surprises people in presidential races. That’s why Ted Cruz ended up in a strong second place. And Trump! He finished in third, which I was not expecting at all.

Nevertheless, Trump ended the night winning all but four states: Minnesota to Rubio, and Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska to Cruz. Rubio is in terrible shape for the nomination. Cruz has an outside chance. Both are hoping for Trump to stumble, or to snag the nomination in a contested convention.

Here in Northern Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, Sanders did even better than his statewide average. Meanwhile, Cruz carried MN8 for Republicans, followed by Trump.

Minnesota politics are unique. The state, as historian Pam Brunfelt once explained to me, has a moralistic tradition — not an authoritarian one. Whether liberal or conservative, we’re high-minded and are willing to go against conventional thinking. That’s why at one time the state had a Gov. Jesse Ventura, Sen. Paul Wellstone and Sen. Rod Grams all at the same time.

So even though Clinton and Trump appear to be pulling away in the national delegate counts, Minnesota has thrown in with Sens. Sanders and Rubio. Are these Quixotic victories, or the start of something bigger? Minnesotans never know. We do this sort of thing anyway.


  1. I am surprised that MN8 Republicans went for Cruz over Trump. I would have thought they’d prefer a narcissistic, foul-mouthed, bullying braggart over a bat guano crazy, radical theocrat who is detested by his Senate colleagues even the majority of tea party Senators. They both reek of authoritarianism which attracts so many conservatives like moths to lightbulbs but I’m very curious as to what “quality” Cruz had over Trump with MN8 caucus goers.

    • David Gray says

      Be honest, you aren’t curious at all or you wouldn’t have written such a pile of steaming poo.

    • Exactly the sort of thoughtful and reasoned response I’ve grown to expect from the Progressive Left. I’m guessing a world in which you people have your hands on all levers of power will be a dystopian mix of”Lord of the Flies” and “Mad Max”.

  2. David Gray says

    Cruz also won Alaska.

  3. Incorrect assumption, Mr. Gray. I am genuinely curious what the appeal of Trump, Cruz or any of the GOP candidates is to their ardent supporters other than they like what the candidates say they will do. The bigger question is what do their supporters honestly think any of them are going to do, deliver on their rhetoric which is pretty darn vague, to improve their lives?

  4. Gerald S says

    Results nationwide are pretty clear.

    Clinton has more or less clinched the Democrats’ nomination because of her lead of almost 200 elected delegates. Since all Democratic contests issue delegates based on proportional results, it is very hard to climb a hill that high. The fact that Sanders only is getting 19 more delegates in Minnesota than Clinton (not counting the “superdelegates”) shows just how hard, since his wide margin of victory got him only that many extra votes. Sanders is also hurt by the fact that, as was shown once again last night, he has a great deal of trouble getting votes from Latino and African American voters. All of the big numbers delegate contests remaining are in states with larger minority populations than Minnesota and Oklahoma. Even Massachusetts gave him problems, with a narrow loss where he had believed he would win, due to minority vote totals in Boston.

    Meanwhile, Rubio is looking bad — if not dead at least on life support. Poor performances in the South are one thing, but his very weak showings in Massachusetts and in Vermont and the failure of his highest priority effort this week, Virginia, makes it look like he is unlikely to be able to take enough delegates in “blue” states in the East, Midwest, and Far West to cancel out the poor results elsewhere. This morning many national GOP stalwarts are pulling the plug and deciding to hold their nose and back Cruz as the last, most desperate line of defense against Trump. Rubio trails badly in the polls even in his native Florida, and may well be gone on February 16 if he loses the winner take all primary there.

    The large number of GOP winner take all races that occur from now on make it still possible for the GOP to stop Trump, but the remaining schedule favors him, overwhelmingly over Rubio and quite a bit over Cruz.

    So although a Cruz-Rubio ticket is still possible, it is looking more and more like November will be Trump vs. Clinton.

    Don’t feel too sorry for any of these guys though. Rubio has a big career ahead as a lobbyist and lecturer, and possibly as a Fox personality, plus a good chance in another few years. Cruz will go back to the Senate as the congressional standard bearer for the far right, Tea Party wing of the GOP, and a strong candidate for the GOP future if Trump does not win. Sanders will be commanding $40,000 to $80,000 a night on the lecture circuit, repeating the same speech he uses over and over during the campaign and signing autographs for his many fans.

  5. If we’re eventually going to have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump …

    Isn’t there anyone out there in this grand country that could run an actual real campaign as an independent? A decent Democrat or a decent Republican that isn’t afraid to step up? Even just a famous person with a good personality, intellect, and knowledge of people and issues?

    Seems to me that is what Minnesota was actually asking last night. There just has to be someone better out there … isn’t there?

    • Gerald S says

      Unfortunately, that question does not seem to be on the mind of most people in the country. Clinton and Trump are winning by wide margins nationally, and the president is, no matter what we would prefer up here, chosen nationally. Minnesota has a long history of what I would consider superior taste in politicians, from Humphrey and Mondale to Elmer Anderson and David Durenberger, but we end up saddled with the presidents they elect in Texas and Pennsylvania.

      My best answer to solving this is to secede from the US and join Canada, so we could have Justin Trudeau as our leader. No one on the Coasts or in the Sunbelt would miss us, and we could still visit if we wanted to. It would just be a little bump in the border. Minnesota is Baja Canada already anyhow.

      • Rick Anderson says

        A few years ago the Ely Chamber of Commerce ran one of it’s award-winning April Fool’s spoofs – “Say No to Canada” , about our neighbor to the North annexing Ely and the BWCA…it may be time to reconsider.

  6. Rick, if you haven’t already watched the youtube “Canada for President 2016″, it’s great snark. Good line: We know America is a great country, we just want to make it good again”.

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