Minnesota will be in 2020 Super Tuesday mix

A voter fills out her primary ballot at the Ramsey County Elections Plato Building in St. Paul, Minn. on Aug. 13, 2018.

Minnesota will be part of the Super Tuesday scramble in next year’s presidential nominating contest with its primary set to happen on March 3, 2020.

The date was confirmed Friday, a week before the state’s political parties were required to alert the Secretary of State’s Office about calendar plans and whether they wanted to shift the date.

“That’s done. That’s signed, sealed, delivered,” said Minnesota Republican Party executive director Kevin Poindexter.

At least nine other states from coast-to-coast will hold votes on that day, with several other states eyeing it as they set their schedules. The most notable Super Tuesday states are California and Texas, which have the most national convention delegates at stake. 

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Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, said he’s not dwelling on whether Minnesota will get lost in the crowd.

“It’s certainly a risk we take, maybe potentially getting overshadowed,” Martin said. “But it’s the only date that really works for us in terms of the schedule we need to be able to have our state convention in June and be able to do all the other business of the party.”

Super Tuesday is the first multiple-state vote in the primary process, which this year will be more vital to Democrats given that they’re the party out of power in the White House. The large field could narrow before that day arrives as candidates flame out after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina hold separate votes throughout February.

The reality, though, is that ballots will go out to some Minnesota voters ahead of the other states. By law, the window for absentee and other mail ballots opens 46 days ahead of the election. That means some people could be casting votes for candidates who are out by the time March 3 arrives.

“There could be some spoiled ballots,” Martin said.

Super Tuesday currently features the home states of several announced Democratic hopefuls: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Sen. Kamala Harris (California); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts); Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont);  and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (Texas).

Next year marks the return of an open primary to Minnesota for the presidential race. In the recent past, people wanting a say in the nominating process had to show up at evening precinct caucuses.

The Legislature changed the law in response to complaints around the overloaded 2016 caucus. That law change gave major parties the ability to jointly pick a primary date that fell in March or later. Failure to do so put the date on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The major parties will still hold precinct caucuses to conduct state party business. Those are tentatively planned for Feb. 25 of next year.