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May 6, 2012 at 6:25 PM
Washington State Democratic Legislative District Caucus: grassroots participation refreshing element of election process
While attendance at the WA Democratic Legislative District Caucus did not compare to 2008, those who came seeking delegate seats demonstrated an authentic approach to grassroots political engagement.
REDMOND – I knew the 45th District Democrat precinct caucus on April 15th wouldn’t be the same as in 2008. Back then, I, along with a mighty contingent, was excited about Hillary Clinton becoming president. Others in attendance were equally excited about electing Barack Obama.
The auditorium at Evergreen Jr. High School was crowded and latecomers had to park at the nearby Elementary school, on the street or anywhere they could find a place to park.
Families came in packs: fathers carrying their daughters on their shoulders, moms holding their kids hands, all in tow. It was an evening full of emotion and pride to be an American. Well, ok, I was full of emotion.
We all shared an overwhelming desire for change. We were actively pursuing and indulging in our right to vote — to have a say in the political process. There was a sense of unity and within the unity a belief that change was possible.
Jump to 2012.
As UWEE reported last month, precinct caucus attendance was lower. Much lower. In my case, the same auditorium dwarfed the 20 or so inside — most of them committed to re-electing Barack Obama. Due to the low turnout, there was no competition if you wanted to be a delegate to the April 28 Legislative District Caucus.
While attendance at the Legislative District also caucus paled in comparison to 2008, there were many vying for the 27 delegate seats allocated to Legislative District for the King County Convention the following day.
April 16, 2012 at 7:49 AM
With reporting by Alicia Halberg and Stephanie Kim
Democrats held their legislative caucuses on Sunday to help decide the party’s platform and select the presidential nominee. With Obama guaranteed the nomination, many simply didn’t see any point in attending.
Only 24 people showed up for the meeting of Washington’s 36th legislative district caucuses at Whittier Elementary in Ballard, where 15 precincts met to caucus.
Alice Woldt, former chairwoman of the King County Democratic Party and former chair of the 36th district Democrats, convened the caucuses at Whittier. She said the district had tried to reach out to potential caucus-goers using local media, calling those who came out in 2008, robocalls in the area, and having caucus officers talk to their neighbors.
“With all of the media attention on the other party, we need to build up energy and enthusiasm, otherwise people won’t think that we’ve got anything going on,” Woldt said. (more…)
March 10, 2012 at 6:30 AM
BOISE — “Wow, all the way from Seattle? I knew we were a big deal!” said one Republican at the Ada County caucus.
That’s the reaction we heard covering the caucuses this past week from Sandpoint all the way down to Boise, Idaho. Our 1,400 mile trip showed us that not only were Republicans energetic about their candidates, but they were enthusiastic that their votes helped to shape an election where they usually hold a smaller voice, if any voice at all.
This was Idaho’s first-ever Republican Party caucus, and the first time the state has weighed in on the Republican presidential nomination contest before May in recent history. Idahoans were used to going to polls after the presumptive nominee received all of the delegates they needed to win, making their votes, well, immaterial.
I could write a bunch of cliches such as, “the energy was palpable,” and “the tension in the arena was so thick, you could cut it with a knife.” Instead, I put together a video of what it was like to be in Taco Bell Arena in Boise, with 9,050 Republican voters in attendance at this history-making caucus.
Ilona Idlis contributed reporting to this post.
March 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM
BOISE — Doug Lawrence mostly did not get what he wanted on Super Tuesday.
After putting in the effort to attend Ada County’s first caucus with his wife and son — shifting around work schedules, finding a handicapped parking spot and barely making it in the door in time — Lawrence was there to help Rick Santorum make a strong showing.
When Santorum came in as a distant second with 22.83 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 51.79 in the first round of voting, Lawrence was a bit disappointed. He saw the attendees as split between moderates and constitutional conservatives, and like much of the GOP nation, the latter divided all over the board between Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
“You see, Mitt Romney has an allegiance to the Mormon Church that’s above his allegiance to the US Constitution,” he said.
“And I don’t mean that as a criticism,” he quickly qualified. “We’re both Christians and we’re going to vote Christian. We’re going to vote for God.”
Come November, Lawrence said he would coalesce around whomever the Republicans nominate so that Barack Obama is defeated. Unlike some die-hard Ron Paul supporters, who say they would support Paul if he ran as part of a third party, Lawrence said he will vote Republican.
Even though the outcome of the caucus didn’t go as planned, Lawrence was happy he attended.
“This is festive. You feel like your vote counts.”
(The video below is a sneak peak of a feature-length “Voices of the Ada County” video compilation, coming soon. Watch till the end for Lawrence’s take on Mitt Romney.)
March 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM
BOISE — Last night’s Ada County caucus was a stadium size gathering of conservatives of all stripes, everyone united by one desire — to defeat Barack Obama.
Well, almost everyone.
“Skip” Scanlin attended the caucus as the Taco Bell Arena to vote for Rick Santorum, but not for his strong conservative values. Daughter of two Democratic politicians, Scanlin felt Santorum would be an easy defeat for President Barack Obama come November. And after the Senator robo-called Democrats in Michigan, Scanlin considered herself invited.
So she registered as Ada County Republican as soon as the new caucus system was announced, received her American flag background voter card and arrived at the arena sporting a homemade “Idahoans Are People Too” T-shirt (which got many approving nods from passerby Ron Paul supporters).
The T-shirt, she explained, was actually a jab at local politicians who Scanlin felt continuously ignored the needs of their electorate.
“Our politicians here treat us with a level of contempt that’s unimaginable,” the Democrat said. On the whole, though, Scanlin was in good spirits.
Idaho politics have surpassed Texas-level wackiness, she joked.
March 7, 2012 at 11:07 AM
BOISE — With 9,050 voters, over a hundred volunteers, a live band, and endless concession stands selling popcorn, Ada County’s inaugural caucus felt a lot like a carnival. The crowd would spontaneously erupt in “Ron Paul” and “Mitt, Mitt, Mitt” chants or break out The Wave. The applause was deafening and the chorus of voices singing the National Anthem was beautiful. Little kids danced by the stage and attendees chatted with their favorite local politicians and radio personalities.
Though not everyone was happy with Mitt Romney’s 51.79% win, no one complained about the enthusiasm and camaraderie that filled the Taco Bell Arena. Below are a few photo that captured of the energy in America’s largest caucus thus far:
These girls decked themselves in patriotic gear in preparation for their first caucus.
Tiny tots carry a paper Ron Paul banner.
March 7, 2012 at 6:30 AM
BOISE — Over 9,000 voters crowded inside the Taco Bell Arena on Super Tuesday for Ada County’s first ever caucus, where Mitt Romney secured all of Idaho’s 32 delegates. Ada County Chairman Dwight Johnson called it the “largest caucus in the history of the Republican Party.” The sharp 7 p.m. walk-in deadline was extended to accommodate the barrage of latecomers, and by the time attendance was established, half an hour had passed.
After a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem, instructions, and stump speeches for each of the four candidates (Rick Santorum submitted a video message), the voting part of the event finally got under way. Caucus goers lined up according to the stamps on their wristbands at various polling booths around the stadium. I use the term “booth” loosely, since voting space was just a few gauze black curtains. Inside was a table with four buckets. Each bucket had a candidate’s name taped to it.
As voters entered, volunteers handed them a token — a shiny, new Lincoln penny — to place inside the bucket of their choice. On their way out, another volunteer marked their hands with a blue marker to signify they had voted in the first round.
It took about an hour to filter through everyone sitting in two tiers of bleachers. A few county officials counted all 9,050 pennies — by hand.
March 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM
COEUR D’ALENE –The hundred or so people gathered inside the Coeur D’Alene Resort Hotel for a Mitt Romney rally greeted Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter like an old friend.
Moments after strolling inside the convention hall, the Governor got a warm hug from Donna Montgomery, an event volunteer and long time member of Kootenai County Republican Women Federated. As the two walked toward the room, the Governor’s arm around Mongomery’s shoulders, she joked that Otter should be the one running for president.
“You know, I was up there for six years and didn’t like it much,” he retorted, reflecting on his six years in Washington D.C. as a congressman.
After shaking hands with me and Alicia Halberg — the only visible press at the event — the Governor disappeared inside the meeting hall and Montgomery nudged me with her elbow.
“Isn’t he cool,” she beamed.
Clad in jeans, a dress shirt with monogrammed “Butch” cuffs, American flag cuff links, and an enormous gilded belt buckle, the Governor carried himself a bit like a cowboy. He exuded a likability reminiscent of George W. Bush’s good ol’ boy charm. Aw shucks. I found myself agreeing with Montgomery. (more…)
March 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM
BOISE–The four hour drive from tiny, freezing Grangeville to huge and sunny Boise is a roller coaster of terrain, temperature and elevation. As Alicia Halberg wove her Chevy Blazer around the twists and turns of US 95, the views alternated between snowy cliffs and rolling yellow plains, the thermometer bounced from 23 to 42 degrees and countless cows grazed the mountain sides.
One thing was constant, though.
Every small town we passed through, whether populated by a hundred or a thousand, was plastered with Ron Paul’s name. Some displayed yard signs, others rigged up their truck-beds with “Restore America Now” placards. In the towns of Riggins and Council flew huge, homemade “Ron Paul Revolution” banners.
Mitt Romney might be winning elsewhere, but Paul has got rural Idaho in the bag.
March 5, 2012 at 6:30 AM
SANDPOINT — Super Tuesday is upon us. With seven primaries, three caucuses, and 419 delegates at stake, the news media are rich with speculation. For the first time ever, the state of Idaho’s Republican Party gets to be part of the buzz.
Until this year, Idaho’s GOP determined its presidential and local nominee preferences with a primary in late May. At the presidential level, the 32 delegates chosen then attended the GOP National Convention with little allegiance to the candidates. Three quarters of the delegates were “soft pledged” (meaning they could change their minds) and the remaining 8 were simply “unpledged” — in other words, free agents.
The late season primary and the changeable delegates meant that Republican candidates rarely visited and few paid attention to the Gem State. Finally, the GOP got tired of being ignored and resolved to make its sizable number of delegates — more than Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada — count in 2012.
So last October, they instituted a caucus system and moved the date way, way up to Super Tuesday – not an uncommon move for states who want more of an early say in the nomination process. So, on Tuesday, 44 counties will open their doors to first-time caucus goers at 7 p.m. In accordance with Idaho’s new voter identification law, only registered Republicans with valid ID can participate.