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Carlton County voters turn out at 2022 caucuses

The DFL party held a contactless caucus, while the GOP caucus was held in person.

Carlton County GOP caucus 2022
Carlton County Republican Chair Tony Sheda (standing) speaks to attendees at the Carlton County Republican caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Carlton, Minn.
Dylan Sherman / Pine Journal

CARLTON COUNTY — The local Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican parties held their caucuses Tuesday, Feb. 1.

The DFL party held a contactless caucus, while the GOP caucus was held in person.

GOP caucuses in Carlton

Over 100 people showed up and participated in the GOP event, which was held at the Four Seasons Event Sports Complex and Center in Carlton. Tony Sheda, Carlton County Republicans chair, said he was pleased with the turnout and the discussion that took place.

Sometimes the GOP caucus can get heated with people debating over which candidate would be best, he said. However, he thought this year it was pretty tame in that regard.

In Sheda's opening speech, he told attendees the GOP needed help from communities if they want to win the gubernatorial election.

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"The reason you are all here is because we got a lot of stuff to do, ladies and gentleman," he said.

The caucus tallied a straw poll of the attendees on who they would choose for governor, and the resounding choice was Scott Jensen, who received 64 of the votes.

The next highest choice was for those undecided on a candidate, which came in at 13 votes.

Heather Brown, a Cloquet resident, attended her first caucus and volunteered to be a delegate. Brown said decided to get involved because of the current state of the economy. She also wants to see the party oppose vaccine mandates.

Jeff Dotseth, who is a candidate for state representative for district 11A, also spoke during the caucus.

"You're in the right room," he said. "You'll find I'm real and genuine."

Dotseth told attendees he grew up thinking he was a Democrat, however he felt the party left his ideals.

Attendees at the caucus volunteered for other positions, such as election judges and poll watchers, and also created some draft resolutions they wanted the party to adopt.

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These resolutions will be condensed and voted on by county delegates on March 5 during the county GOP convention.

DFL sees lower turnout

The DFL's contactless caucus received over 60 forms directly to the county organization, according to former chair Patty Murto. The ballots submitted to the county party do not include any forms that might have been submitted to the state DFL.

"(It was) down by about 100 people," she said. "Part of it is because it is an off-year with no presidential election."

Murto said there was also confusion on how people participated in the caucus this year as it was not held in person. Redistricting and the possible changes in where a person could end up voting was another reason Murto believed there was a lower turnout this year.

"It really threw a monkey wrench in the thought process," she said.

The next step for the county DFL is to schedule a convention to elect party officials and go over resolutions, which Murto said will be scheduled after redistricting information is given out from the state on Feb. 15.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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