Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, winner of Minnesota’s 2016 caucuses, will bring his current Democratic presidential bid to the state in August.
Details of the visit aren’t finalized, but Sanders plans an aggressive play for the state.
He “is not only going to win Minnesota in the primary, we’re going to win in the general election, and that’s all because of the largest volunteer base in the country,” said spokesman Bill Neidhardt.
Sanders’ visit and a St. Paul stop Monday by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren signal a new phase in the countdown to Minnesota’s March 3 primary. More than a dozen states vote on that date, dubbed Super Tuesday because of its likely effect on the Democratic race.
They are the first top-tier candidates to target the state. The addition of it to their schedules suggests that they want to build support here in case Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is no longer a factor by the primary.
More broadly, Democrats want to fortify the state against President Donald Trump’s determination to compete here on Nov. 3. Hillary Clinton eked out a win in 2016.
Sanders and Warren are coming “because Trump has been here, because Trump has said that he’s made Minnesota a top priority,” said Phyllis Kahn, a former state representative who backs Klobuchar.
Sanders has thousands of volunteers here who have organized 197 events so far. Four months ago, the campaign said that more than 30,000 Minnesotans had signed up. Sanders’ fundraising in the state is surpassed only by Klobuchar’s, the campaign said, citing data from ActBlue, a nonprofit conduit for small donations to Democratic candidates.
Sanders clobbered Clinton, 61% to 38%, in 2016’s caucuses, before Minnesota switched to an open-primary system.
He’s in third place in RealClearPolitics’ average of recent national polls with the support of 17.5% of Democratic voters. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 30.3%, followed by Warren with 18.5%.
Klobuchar will be at the Minnesota State Fair on opening day, Aug. 22, and other presidential campaigns also will be visible there.
Minnesota volunteers for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are building a booth that will be across from the 4-H building at the state fair.
She’s “an unknown candidate to Minnesotans, so it’s mainly a matter of educating them,” said Karl Dean, a retired chemist from Minneapolis who is coordinating her effort here. Their focus includes students and Latino and Somali communities, he said.
A Gabbard visit hasn’t been scheduled. She is taking a two-week break from the campaign trail while she’s on active duty in Indonesia with Hawaii’s Army National Guard.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has campaigned in Minnesota twice, most recently in May. His volunteers will be at the DFL Party’s State Fair building on both Saturdays of the run.
“Our Yang Gang has been growing strong and getting close to the 500-member mark,” said regional organizer Jamie Cravens, who lives in Arden Hills.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg also have campaigned in Minnesota but haven’t announced plans to return.
Judy Keen • 612-673-4234