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Lake County residents turn out for Minnesota caucus

Lake County Republicans became part of the national election discussion Tuesday when they, along with other Minnesota Republicans, overwhelming voted for former senator Rick Santorum as the Republican presidential nominee in the state straw poll during the precinct caucuses. Local Republicans voted in both Silver Bay and Two Harbors, with residents from Fall Lake Township participating in Ely.

Sen. Santorum captured 53.2% of the vote in Lake County with 42 votes. Gov. Romney trailed behind with 20 votes.

Two Harbors resident Cheryl Anderson said she has been a registered Republican for 38 years. She said she supported Santorum. "I like his ideals, his attitude, and what he says he can do," Anderson said.

However Anderson said she would also support whoever the Republicans eventually chose as their presidential nominee. "It's what they can do financially for the country," she said. "If they can do half of what they say, we'll be good."

Others supported different candidates. Larsmont resident Ray Sande said he expected the Republicans to eventually choose "between Romney and Newt (Gingrinch)." He said he's hoping Mitt Romney will be the nominee. "As a businessperson, I relate to what he says in his policies," said Sande.

On the other hand, the Lake County Republican Party First Vice Chair Jennifer Havlick described herself as being for Newt Gingrich. "I'd like to see a Newt-Santorum ticket," she said.

DFL caucus

Over at in the northern part of town, the Lake County Democratic Farmer-Labor party met for their caucus. DFLers chose between former Duluth city councilor Jeff Anderson, former 6th District Congressman Rick Nolan of Crosby, and former St. Cloud area state Sen. Tarryl Clark for the Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District seat, currently held by Chip Cravaack.

Clark was able to win over DFL caucus goers in Two Harbors, capturing 27 of 71 votes. Anderson and Nolan were neck-and-neck for second place with 19 and 18 votes, respectively.

Despite winning Two Harbors DFLers over, Clark fell short to Nolan district-wide.

Nolan held a strong lead Wednesday in the 8th Congressional District as the final votes cast by DFL caucus participants from Tuesday night were tallied.

Nolan tallied 1,537 votes compared to 1,008 for Anderson and 408 for Clark.

DFLers were also given a chance to choose who they wished to see run for president on the Democratic ticket, with an overwhelming majority of Two Harbors votes going to current President Barack Obama. Just two people were undecided about the president, while 68 voted for Obama.

The caucus was also a chance for people to decide what they'd like the DFL party platform to look like. People were split into groups depending on what ward they lived in and were able to pass resolutions pertaining to certain issues they deemed important.

One group decided to pass resolutions against mining in state parks along the North Shore, against a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex couples from getting married, in favor of a single-payer health care plan, and in favor of shifting unnecessary military spending toward human service needs.

Delegates were also elected, who will serve at the county DFL convention. From there, delegates will be whittled down to a smaller number. That smaller group will then serve at the 8th Congressional District convention at Spirit Mountain in Duluth during the spring.

Statewide and beyond

About 22,000 Minnesota Republicans helped Rick Santorum slow down what many had seen as a Mitt Romney domination of the Republican presidential race.

With nearly all of Minnesota's 4,137 precincts reporting, that is how many votes the former Pennsylvania U.S. senator received in Tuesday's caucuses.

He also won caucuses in Colorado, upsetting favored Romney, and a Missouri primary election. None of the wins brought Santorum any delegates because the contests were non-binding, but national political commentators Wednesday proclaimed that they at least proved that Romney will not walk away with the GOP nomination.

More than 48,000 Republicans attended the Minnesota caucuses, giving Santorum 45 percent support.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who campaigned in Minnesota more than other candidates, finished second with 27 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, who easily won the caucuses four years ago, was a distant third with 17 percent. Ex-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia rounded out the field with 11 percent.

In his St. Charles, Mo., victory speech, Santorum thanked Tea Party members and other conservatives for giving him a Tuesday sweep. He had not won since Iowa's caucuses opened the caucus and precinct season a month ago.

He had a message for Democratic President Barack Obama: "You had better start listening."

In Denver, Romney delivered a more subdued speech even before knowing he would lose the Colorado caucuses.

Still, the national front-runner had a message of his own: "I expect to become the nominee."

Santorum won most Minnesota counties, according to unofficial but nearly complete returns. Paul won in Koochiching, Red Lake, Benton and Blue Earth counties. Santorum and Paul tied in Lincoln County.

In Missouri, all counties went for Santorum. Colorado Republicans in most of the state picked Santorum, although those in the northwest and the Denver area opted for Romney, who had expected to win the western state.