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Minn. caucuses put busy campaign season in motion

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- It's the first chance to cast ballots in the races for Minnesota governor and U.S. Senate. The votes won't be binding though.

The Democratic, Independence and Republican parties are all staging precinct caucuses Tuesday night where straw polls will be held in the top races.

The intrigue is on the Republican side. The GOP has full fields of Senate and governor candidates, some of whom are tying their campaigns to success in the party endorsement process. But a few candidates are eyeing a primary no matter what to decide the general election nominees.

Among Democrats, Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken say they're running for re-election. Both won their first terms by narrow margins. Neither faces serious competition from a challenger within their party.