Caucus night…

Matt Johnson is a firefighter for the city of Braham. He’s hoping that by attending the 2012 caucus and throwing in his hat as a candidate for board member, he has gotten his political career started. Photo by MaryHelen Swanson

By MaryHelen Swanson—

Walking behind a lawn mower is about as close as you can get to grass roots.

As for American government, the same could be said about the recent political caucuses.

Case in point: In Nessel Township, far up in the northwestern part of Chisago County, 24 individuals gathered at the town hall Tuesday, Feb. 7 for this important first-step in the line of “government by the people” events.

Vicky Friberg convened the meeting, Marvel Anderson was the chairperson.

The highlight of the evening was a straw ballot, non-binding, for whom these folks would like to see running for president of the United States on the Republican party side.

As the voting got down to business, there were no surprises. Like other Republican caucuses throughout Chisago County and the state, Rick Santorum took the lead and the most votes in Nessel Township, at 19. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich each garnered two and Ron Paul, one vote.

A couple of the voters had just come from an event in Blaine where Santorum had stirred up the crowd. They enthusiastically supported this candidate and spoke briefly before the vote in his favor.

During the meeting, Friberg repeatedly urged the attendees to consider volunteering for their party in Chisago County.

She also noted that at this caucus was where precinct officers were elected and the group went on to vote on a board member to represent them at the county level.

It was then that Braham firefighter Matt Johnson rose to the occasion, putting his hat in the ring for the first time in his life in hopes of it being a start of his political career.

The incumbent board member Rick Thompson was out of town, but had given Friberg a letter saying he would like to be re-elected to the position.

But it was newcomer Johnson who was chosen that night, receiving 15 votes to Thompson’s 6.

The folks were asked about changes to the Republican party platform, with its 9 planks.

No one had a resolution prepared regarding the platform or any changes.

With business essentially completed, the caucus came to an end.

Matt Johnson will hold the board member position for two years.

He was asked about his actions that night and said he wanted to get a start in politics.

And although he had some concerns because of two small children, he felt it was the right time to get involved.

Across the yard in the maintenance building, Nessel Township Democrats were also meeting that night. The topic of a presidential candidate was not as hot in that building. Across the county, the goal of Democrats is to replace sitting Republicans in local and statewide positions.

Next step for both of these groups is the county conventions.

The Democratic convention is set for 10 a.m., March 12 at the North Branch Area High School.

The Republican convention is set for 9 a.m. March 24 at the Maranatha Church in Wyoming.

Countywide caucus results:

612 Republican voters took a straw poll on caucus night.

• Santorum received 349

• Ron Paul, 121

• Mitt Romney, 73

• Newt Gingrich, 67

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