SPOKANE — Many Republicans at the Moran Prairie Grange in South Spokane stood for the duration of their caucuses, some for more than three hours, because their location ran out of chairs. Leaders scrambled to rent roughly 90 more for a total of 270 chairs, which still wasn’t enough for the estimated 300+ person turnout at this area’s pooled caucus.
Mike R. Mumford, a Republican leader in District 9B, said that the extra chairs cost him $123. He said he will not be reimbursed by the party.
“Last night we weren’t sure what the turnout would be like, so we came up with a plan to rent extra chairs if there were more people than expected,” said Mumford. Luckily, his family owns a truck, which enabled them to run out and grab more. “This is the outcome of Gov. Gregoire deciding against a primary. She should have to pay.”
Since 1992 Republicans have elected their presidential nominee through a mix of a primary and a caucus. This year, with the state strapped for cash, the state legislature — not the governor, actually — decided a primary was too expensive. Holding primaries would have cost the state an estimated $10 million.
“A library would have been free, but there may not have been enough space for all of our attendees,” said Gretchen McDevitt, a Republican leader in District 6D for the Spokane County Republican Central Committee. Her district, which caucused in the same location as 9B, also saw costs as an issue. The hall cost the group roughly $200 to rent, with an additional $75 for cleanup costs.
Both chose the Moran Prairie Grange due to its location and size. Renting space in a school would have also cost them.
“Some Precinct Committee Officers offered to help with costs, but they were not obliged to do so; some held their caucuses at their own homes,” said McDevitt. Five of the District 6D’s 23 precincts held caucuses in-home, presenting a cheaper option for some Precinct Committee Officers.
McDevitt and Mumford said they will likely split the costs for the location and chairs.