15 Democrats secure spot on Minnesota presidential ballot

Two men shake hands over a table
Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin delivers the 15 names of Democratic candidates who will appear on the March 3, 2020 presidential primary ballot to a staffer in the Minnesota secretary of state's office on Tuesday.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

Updated: 3:17 p.m.

Fifteen Democrats running for president will appear on Minnesota’s March 3 primary ballot — far beyond the single name on the Republican side and creating the likelihood some candidates will be options after they’ve ended their bids.

Minnesota votes on Super Tuesday along with more than a dozen other states in the first multi-state showdown of the nomination season. The field could very well shrink in February as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada play their traditional early roles.

By Minnesota law, the names are locked in. But people who had cast a ballot as early as Jan. 17 through the absentee process will have a chance to replace their ballot if they act quickly enough.

The candidates on Minnesota’s Democratic ballot are:

  • Home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar

  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden

  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delany

  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro

  • Author Marianne Williamson

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet

  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

  • South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg

  • Businessman Tom Steyer

  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said he expects an active race for support in Minnesota, from advertising to canvassing to appearances by the candidates.

Minnesota has the longest streak of backing Democrats for the White House. But Martin said it could be up-for-grabs in both the primary and the general election, which makes it somewhat unique on the map.

The fulsome DFL’s ballot stands in contrast to the Minnesota Republican ballot, where President Trump grabbed the sole spot. The party will allow for write-ins but candidates must get additional signoff to have votes counted specifically for them.

The exclusion of other GOP candidates has sparked a court challenge that is still pending. Erick Kaardal, the attorney for two Republican plaintiffs in the case, said he isn’t satisfied with the Democratic roster either because some declared candidates were left off.

“This is a very stupid system and it is unconstitutional because political party chairs shouldn’t be in control of who is on the presidential primary ballot,” Kaardal said.

An order Tuesday signed by Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea set oral arguments in the case for Jan. 9. The court said briefs from Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state Republican Party and “if he chooses to do so, President Donald J. Trump,” must be filed by New Year’s Eve or sooner.

That leaves little time between the court hearing and the commencement of voting in Minnesota.

Ballots will be printed in the coming weeks to accommodate the start of absentee and early in-person voting. Minnesota’s Jan. 17 kickoff makes it the first place where 2020 votes will be cast even if they aren’t counted until many weeks later.

The primary replaces the presidential preference ballots that were formerly distributed at precinct caucuses. The votes will determine delegate allocation for the candidates as they head toward national party conventions.

Voters can cast a ballot in only one party’s primary and must attest that they generally agree with that party’s principles. Which party ballot they choose will be a matter of record that is turned over to the political parties, but not to the public at large. That’s led to some concern about privacy in a state with no formal party registration.

Martin said his party will use the information closely to better target its messaging in the general election.

“We’ll use that to organize, to turn people out and identify them as Democratic voters and work with them to get them engaged in our contest moving forward,” Martin said, adding that having the Republican list, too, will help the party refine its voter contacts in the final sprint.

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