On Sunday, January 8, the Democratic Socialist Caucus (DSC) held its third annual convention, in fully virtual mode. The Democratic Socialist Caucus was formed in 2019-2020 with the intention of becoming a Community Outreach Organization within the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party, and eventually a Community Caucus of the organization. As detailed in this story from last year, the DSC was shot down by the executive committee of the DFL on its first attempt at recognition, when that body refused to place the question on the State Central Committee agenda. I’ll get into the aftermath of that in a moment.
The convention was called to order by the DSC Chair, Samuel Doten, a little bit late at 6:39 p.m., due to the outbreak of humorous insider DFL chat among members awaiting check-in. A number of members had already been in, and indeed were coming straight from, other long meetings of various caucuses or committees of the DFL, so the mood was a little bit punch-drunk.
This year’s DSC Annual Convention is in two sessions, and this was Session 1. Originally Session 2 was scheduled for February 12, because our current chair, Sam, is running to be the state DFL Outreach and Inclusion Officer (OIO), which will be elected on February 11, 2023, at the DFL Business Conference. Sam will step down as chair if he wins the OIO position. However, later someone realized that this put us in direct conflict with the Super Bowl. So we addressed that in the meeting and Session 2 will now be on Sunday, February 19, at which time we will elect a new Chair if needed and handle a few other bits of business, followed by having a Political Education session (post-adjournment) on why and how to run for office.
I’ll skip over all the boring bits that are standard for any annual meeting. The main purposes of this year’s convention were:
- To update members on the past year’s activities and also on the current quarterly plan which ends on February 11 with the DFL Business Conference
- To adopt a quarterly plan that runs from the DFL Biz Con to the end of the legislative session in May
- To elect officers and directors, including one special election
- To hear speeches from candidates and elected officials
- Also this meeting, too, included a post-adjournment Pol Ed session, focused on Minnesota’s odd-year round of Municipal and School Board elections
Following on from the disappointment of the DFL State Central Committee (SCC) meeting that we weren’t considered at, we had a surge in membership and over the year, membership doubled and is now over 200. The activities and accomplishments of 2022 were many. We started a Slack workplace to facilitate internal communications. In May, we were a big presence at the DFL State Convention in Rochester. We held a meet and greet party there called Socializing with Socialists which had good attendance and brought in a few new people. We had a table in the hall all three days which brought in a lot more, and we handed out over 300 red carnations to delegates. We participated in a labor union rally on behalf of Rochester hotel staff. Later on, in July we had a very good Steering Committee retreat at a retreat center in Forest Lake. And later still, in October, we hosted an old-fashioned bean feed in Lakeville to raise money to share among DSC and four DFL caucuses. We rallied to successfully defend one of our members from being unfairly expelled from his Democratic National Committee (DNC) position in December to finish out the year on a high note
Plans for the upcoming quarter include:
- Strong participation in municipal elections, especially in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth, including caucus participation, candidate engagement, and tabling at city conventions
- A Democratic Socialists Day on the Hill during the 2023 session
- Party organizing activities such as visiting Congressional District (CD) meetings
- Trainings such as “You should run for office” and Democratic Socialism 101
- Launching the Sinistral Parliamentary Study Group (basically, rules of order for leftists)
- Hosting a forum on Housing, Affordability, and Rent Stabilization
The elections went pretty smoothly. We elected a Vice Chair, a Treasurer, and four Directors, some new and some for second terms, and all by acclamation. At various points during the meeting, we also heard four to five minute speeches (not in this order) from:
- Aurin Chowdury (a DSA member) who is running for Minneapolis City Council Ward 12
- Nelsie Yang, who is running for re-election for St. Paul City Council Ward 7
- Suz Woehrle (a DSC member) who is running for St. Paul City Council Ward 1
- Azrin Awal (a DSA member) who is an At-large member of the Duluth City Council
- Megan Thomas, DFL Historian, who is documenting the Farmer-Labor Party and early socialists in the DFL memorabilia
No fewer than 23 Municipalities and 31 School Districts in Minnesota will have general elections this November. This was the gist of the message in the half hour training session held after the adjournment of Session 1. The DSC is fired up and ready to make a difference in these vital elections. We are also going all in to get our comrade and current chair Sam Doten elected to the OIO position of the DFL. They need his awesome organizing skills more than they know.
More pictures from 2022
– by Deb R (member of Twin Cities DSA since 1986, founding member of the DSC)