See more of the story

Fifteen Democratic presidential candidates have qualified for Minnesota's March 3 primary election ballot.

Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin called the large field "unprecedented" Tuesday as he submitted the list of candidates to the Secretary of State's office.

"Any of one of them would be a much better fit for the White House than the current occupant," Martin said. "We're excited about the energy we see around the state already."

The Minnesota Republican Party finalized a primary ballot in October that listed only the name of President Donald Trump. The decision to leave off long-shot challengers sparked criticism and, more recently, a lawsuit. Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan has defended the move, arguing that her job as party leader is to help re-elect the president next year.

In order to make the DFL ballot, candidates had to agree to the Democratic National Committee's delegate selection rules and submit a letter of interest by mid-December, Martin said. Fifteen candidates still actively campaigning met those requirements, including Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The others who made the cut: Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, John Delaney, Julián Castro, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard. Ballots also will include an "uncommitted" option.

The 2020 Democratic field has had as many as 28 candidates, although 13 have dropped out.

Minnesota dropped its presidential caucuses in favor of a primary election for 2020. It is one of more than a dozen states and jurisdictions selecting nominees on Super Tuesday, four weeks after caucusgoers in Iowa kick off the race for delegates. Early voting in Minnesota begins on Jan. 17.

That timing means some candidates set to appear on Minnesota's ballots may have dropped out by the time the primary rolls around. Only seven of the candidates on the Minnesota DFL ballot have qualified for the sixth Democratic debate Thursday in California: Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, Sanders, Yang and Steyer.

Martin said he isn't concerned about that scenario creating confusion, citing an engaged primary electorate and the competitive and fluid contest for the nomination.

"I don't believe the four early states are going to winnow the field as much as they have in the past," Martin said, referring to contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. "I think the start of the real winnowing process in our party nominating process will be Super Tuesday."

Both parties had until Dec. 31 to submit a final list of qualified candidates to state election officials.

Torey Van Oot • 651-925-5049