Topic: Washington caucuses
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April 14, 2012 at 8:58 AM
UW Election Eye is travel bound, with trips today and next week from the West to the East Coast.
Today and tomorrow multiple groups of UW Election Eye reporters will be striking out across Washington State to cover important issues and concerns from a citizen’s perspective.
Today we will be heading north to Bellingham and the Canadian border, east to Roslyn, Cle Elum, and Spokane, south to Vancouver, WA, and out west to Bremerton and the Olympic Peninsula.
Tomorrow we will be at multiple Democratic caucuses throughout King County and beyond to get voters’ perspectives on both state and national races.
Starting Sunday and over the next week leading up to the next set of presidential primaries we will have reporters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware (and wherever the open road may take us) to see what matters to voters as the Republican presidential primary transitions into the general election.
March 3, 2012 at 6:14 PM
SEATTLE — The Washington GOP headquarters, home to the press room for the Washington caucuses, is sequestered away in a bare office space just outside of downtown Bellevue.
Results from counties all over the state are trickling in, with updates every 30-45 minutes from Washington GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur. As the county vote map fills in with results from Adams to Yakima, the Washington caucus process seems to have avoided most of the pitfalls of previous states’ caucus process.
Unfortunately for the WA GOP, everything has not gone exactly as according to plan. The biggest snafu of the day unfolded in Kennewick. This morning hundreds of caucus goers were turned away once the facility reached maximum capacity. Kennewick is the largest city in Benton County, and the final tally of votes from the county are as follows: Romney: 728, Santorum: 418, Paul: 308, and Gingrich: 200. Here Wilbur responds to questions about Kennewick:
Voters, news media, and probably some of the candidates themselves are now wondering: what could have been?
March 3, 2012 at 5:35 PM
SPOKANE — The Moran Prairie Grange caucus site brimmed with as many varied opinions about local politics as it did people. The hot topic of the day was same-sex marriage, and the attendees did not shy away from sharing.
For Dennis Beringer, a former reserve police officer and a retired real estate agent, the issue was black and white. Marriage was between a man and a woman in his view, and Beringer was passionately unhappy with Governor Christine Gregoire and the Democratic legislature for deciding otherwise.
“Why didn’t it go to the voters in the first place?” he said. He suggested a voter referendum to appreciative nods and a few exclamations from his precinct crowd.
If the people of Washington upheld the ruling, however, Beringer would abide. It would not fall in line with his values or beliefs, he said, but “the law of the land is the law of the land.”
Julie Boehrig moved to Spokane eight years ago from San Diego. It was the first caucus for the Newt Gingrich supporter, and she said immigration was her key social issue. For her, the controversies over contraception were a “dead issue” that distracted from the real problems. Gay marriage, however, was not. Specifically, when California’s courts overturned Proposition 8, she shared Beringer’s “people’s choice” reasoning.
“We voted. It was decided,” Boehrig insisted. “It shouldn’t be up to any judge. They think they’re above the law.”
Yet Boehrig said she had no problem with gay relationships. If someone has decided to spend a lifetime with another person, they each should have hospital visitation and other rights, she said. She just doesn’t agree with the term marriage: “Maybe we need a different word.”
Contrary to other attendees, social issues did not figure into the “broader picture” for Joseph Harari. The Israeli-born veterinarian was at the Grange to support Mitt Romney in order to keep America capitalist.
“[Immigrants] are coming here to rise,” he said. “That’s the beauty and the strength of this country.”
Harari’s final verdict was that abortion and gay marriage were private issues. He cautioned against voting for one-issue candidates, doubting their electability in a broad electorate.
“This country is more than one issue, you can’t let that be overemphasized,” he said.
March 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM
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.
March 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM
VANCOUVER — Clark County hugs the northern side of the Columbia River near Portland and is often locked into the liberal vibe from the south. But on this day, the engaged crowd of 596 who gathered at Heritage High School for Republican caucuses took pride in being Portland’s conservative commuter city — and a Ron Paul stronghold.
Supporters for other candidates were certainly present at this caucus location — in the presidential straw poll Paul got 200 votes, Mitt Romney received 188, Rick Santorum received 147, and Newt Gingrich received 46 — but they were mostly quiet. Paul’s supporters, on the other hand, were on fire.
Young and old, black and white, “Blue Republicans” and “Little “l” libertarians” flagged me down to profess their devotion to “The Doctor.” Young voters voiced a sentiment I’ve heard now dozens of times across our coverage in Nevada, Colorado, and Washington — Obama has let them down by becoming “the next George W. Bush,” passing the National Defense Authorization Act, and failing to stop U.S. wars. Older Paulians expressed the desire to return to gold standard and obliterate government spending.
Nearly every Paul supporter to whom I spoke was grinning from ear to ear. Periodically, when Paul took all of a precinct’s delegates, a table of hunched-over caucusers burst into applause.
March 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM
SPOKANE — On most mornings, the Moran Prairie Grange is a lone grey building on a largely desolate South Palouse highway. But by 10 a.m. today hundreds of cars lined the road and the spacious two-story barn was bursting with people.
The Grange hosted parts of two legislative districts, the 6th and 9th. The turnout was so unexpectedly large, districts were broken into quarters and thirds. Precinct Committee Officers volunteered to create makeshift precinct caucuses in nearby houses. As UW Election Eye colleague Alicia Halberg and I entered, a stream of people was being escorted to new locations.
Those who stayed within the Grange’s walls found themselves without seating. In a last ditch effort, organizers ran out and rented chairs. With more than 270 chairs offered, there were still many left standing.
District Leader Gretchen McDevitt, of the 6th Legislative District, covered some of the cost of the caucus, but was ecstatic about the turnout.
Last year’s election had only six people, she said.
Larger groups meant longer voting processes and many deferred to straw polls. Still, caucuses kept going past 1 p.m. Joseph Harari, a veterinarian from South Hill, was impressed with people’s dedication and patience.
“People have been here over three hours and they keep voting and voting. Nobody’s killed each other yet,” he joked.
I sat in on a Green Acres area precinct — yes, that is the correct name — with a large attendance, wherein Mitt Romney was lauded for his business sense. Rick Santorum came in a close second for speaking from the heart and sticking to fundamental values.
Julie Boehrig was the only one to speak on Newt Gingrich’s behalf, maintaining he was the only candidate strong enough to defeat Obama.
“Maybe he doesn’t have the money to buy the election,” she said, jabbing at the Romney camp. She was then voted down as a delegate candidate, but did get named as an alternate.
No one spoke for Ron Paul in this precinct.
On the other side of town, the scene at All Saints Lutheran Church was much different. This much-smaller downtown Spokane caucus welcomed a bevy of young libertarians in support of Paul. All other candidates appeared to be in the minority.
Kevin (he did not provide his last name) told me he’d be voting for the first time in his 32 years. He and his wife had gotten hooked on Paul three months ago upon watching a 10-minute campaign advertisement on YouTube. Now, Kevin was motivated to act.
“If there was ever a time, it’s now,” he said.
At these two caucuses on opposite sides of Spokane, the candidate preferences were very different. But the goal was the same: Defeat Barack Obama.
Alicia Halberg contributed reporting to this post.
March 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Shane Stewart, 20, plans to caucus in Eatonville for the first time today. His is valunteer on the Rick Santorum campaign, for which he has been coordinating sign-wavings and get-out-the-vote efforts in Pierce County for his candidate in the lead up to this weekend.
“We have a lot of youth that are pumped up about this,” he says. “[Santorum's] grassroots … they’re on fire …That’s what makes us tick.”
When Santorum held a rally in Tacoma a few weeks ago, Stewart said that the candidate told him he was impressed by the energy of the crowd at the state-history museum at an earlier event in Olympia, despite the presence of protesters.
Stewart wasn’t old enough to vote in 2008, the last time Washington’s voters had a chance to help decide the Republican race.
“Our country’s different now,” he says. “They[Americans] are frustrated.”
As for the fact that there are four candidates on the ballot still, Stewart said: “I think it’s good to have so many people in the race. It allows people to think. We hope that they pick Rick.”
But he said that Santorum’s fans are supportive of the GOP cause in general, no matter what happens here this morning.
In Issaquah, Sherry Biere plans to support Santorum because “he seems to be the most conservative on many issues.”
“[It's] pretty exciting to see him being a top contender,” she said.
She also said that she’s “not sure what to trust with the GOP. Sometimes I feel like there is an elite group that tries to usher in a candidate of their choice and not the people’s choice.”
The caucuses will be her chance to change that, she said.
March 2, 2012 at 9:30 AM
Our UW Election Eye team is fanning out across the state tomorrow, from Spokane to Bremerton and Mt. Vernon to Vancouver, to meet voters and provide breaking results from the GOP caucus. We’ll be stopping in at about a dozen of the over 420 caucus locations where Washington Republicans will be deciding how to allocate the state’s whopping 43 delegates.
Check out the map below to see where each of our team members will be located:
View UW Election Eye – Washington Caucuses in a larger map
March 1, 2012 at 5:44 PM
All was pretty quiet here in my third-story grad-student office at the University of Washington, my desk piled high with dusty books.
Then my cellphone rang, with an “802″ area code. I answered.
“Hello, my name is Robert,” a voice told me. “You have been selected to participated in an automated poll.” He/it went on to ask if I planned on “supporting” (1) President Obama, (2) Mitt Romney, (3) Rick Santorum, (4) Ron Paul, or (5) Newt Gingrich.
“0″ was reserved for “other or undecided.”
I found the order a bit odd, but I made my choice. The voice then said, “Thank you for participating. Goodbye.”
Once the call ended I was left back in the comparative silence of my office. It felt like I was in Ohio or Colorado or some other state that usually matters more in these kinds of contests. But then I remembered that, well, Washington does matter, more than usual this year.
Thank you, Mr. Robo-Robert, for the reminder.
February 28, 2012 at 6:30 AM
Rick Santorum embraces religious politics and seeks to win over evangelicals to seize Washington caucuses
In the Republican caucuses this coming Saturday, Rick Santorum hopes to be the Pat Robertson of 2012.
In 1988, Robertson was a controversial Christian TV talk show host and leader of the Religious Right — a growing collection of politically active evangelicals and fundamentalists who were bringing their religious beliefs into the political arena. The movement emerged in the 1970s and took off in the 1980s as a response to the tectonic cultural changes of the civil rights movement, sexual revolution, government deception, legalization of abortion, and removal of mandated prayer from public schools.
Robertson ran for president in 1988, determined to lead Christian conservatives to the political promised land. He’d never held office, so he was the longest of longshots. But he energized evangelicals in Iowa, and he finished second in the state’s caucuses on February 8, behind Senator Bob Dole and ahead of vice-president George H. W. Bush.
Bush bounced back to win New Hampshire, and after a few weeks of competition, Bush took control of the Republican nomination. On March 1, Robertson won the caucuses in Alaska, but from that point forward Bush captured every remaining state or territory in the Republican contest — 36 states.
All except one, that is. On March 8, Robertson won the Washington caucuses.
It was an outcome shrouded in controversy. Chris Vance, then Dole’s campaign manager in Washington and later the state Republican Party chair, said there was considerable confusion among the party’s caucus leaders about vote counting. In his view, “We’ll never actually know who won the caucuses that year.”
Nonetheless, Vance credited Robertson with energizing religious conservatives to attend the caucuses. “They had buses go by churches and pick up people, and then they’d unload at the caucus sites and people would come flowing out. It was amazing. These folks walked in, picked Robertson in the straw poll, and they were done.”
Vance said Robertson and Ellen Craswell, a Republican state senator in the 1970-80s and 1996 gubernatorial candidate, excited Christian conservatives in Washington unlike anyone since. The state party’s leadership was “so embarrassed” by Robertson’s win, Vance said, that they pushed the state legislature the following year to adopt a primary system of choosing presidential candidates.
In every year since, Republicans have employed both a caucus and a primary to express their presidential preference — splitting the party’s delegates evenly between the two forums. This combination allows activists to have their say in the small-turnout caucuses and the larger Republican electorate to weigh in with the primary.
However, this year the state legislature cancelled the primary for financial reasons. As a result, for the first time since 1988 the Republicans will hold only a caucus. This Saturday, power lies in the hands of a small, highly motivated collection of conservative voters.
Rick Santorum hopes these are religiously conservative voters.