From yesterday's Whitman County Gazette:
Political wonks throughout Whitman County will meet Saturday, Feb. 9, to select delegates to carry forth a banner in support of the county parties’ choices to run for the office of President.
“I’m predicting an absolutely incredible experience for everyone that comes to the caucus,” said Susan Fagan, chair of the county Republican party. “Personally, I’m very excited about this weekend.”
“It’s going to be so interesting in Washington,” said Carolyn Cress, chair of the county Democrats. “I’ve had people calling all the time, asking to get involved in the caucus.”
Super Tuesday, when 24 states conducted primaries, was supposed to clarify the picture. With several Republican candidates splitting up those states, and Democratic runners chopping the pot, Washington’s caucus will make a difference in the national race for the first time in decades.
Officials from the county parties both anticipate the close races will pump up the turnout this weekend.
“In the past, the caucuses have tended to be for the activists in the party,” said Fagan. “I think you’re going to see a lot more people who would align themselves as independents.”
Those independents could well decide the race, as both Cress and Fagan see a great deal of crossover appeal in candidates for their respective parties.
“If McCain does win the nomination I think probably he would fare well in Washington,” predicted Fagan.
McCain topped the primary returns in 9 states, most of them with large populations and, therefore, delegate counts. That showing brought him 632 delegates from wrapping up the party endorsement.
On the Democratic side, neither of the top two candidates, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, posted big enough victories to gain a significant edge in the race.
Clinton did pull ahead in the delegate count, but the margin was far too slim for either candidate to claim a victory.
That narrow margin is mobilizing a greater proportion of locals, Cress said, especially among the youth vote.
“Barack has been pulling a lot of people in,” said Cress. “But Clinton’s supporters are so organized and committed, I think its going to be quite the battle here in Whitman County.”
Despite the apparent rise of McCain, Fagan said the county party faithful may not be completely sold on the Arizona senator.
She added she has received lots of calls from supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
“If anybody tried to predict how this caucus is going to end up, they’d be crazy,” said Fagan.
Cress said, mostly due to Obama, she has heard from WSU students who have never caucused before and want to get involved.
She pointed to the Illinois Senator’s campaign stop last week in Boise.
“He got 15,000 people to show up for a rally in Boise,” said Cress. “If he can draw that kind of a crowd in Idaho, just think what he can do here.”
That galvanization is causing a unique dilemma for the county Democratic party.
Cress said she is afraid there might not be enough space for caucus attendees.
“But you can caucus in the bathroom for all I care, just get involved,” said Cress.
Caucus attendees must be prepared to openly declare their choice for commander-in-chief. Those candidates must garner at least 15 percent of the votes from attendees.
Those whose candidate does not receive 15 percent will then be wooed by the supporters of successful candidates to join their camp.
All candidates receiving more than 15 percent will receive delegates to the regional and state conventions.
The state Republican Party will allocate 18 of its 40 delegates to the national convention based on the state caucus results. The winner of the Feb. 19 Presidential Preference Primary will receive 19 delegates with the remaining three reserved for party officials.
All of the state’s delegates to the Democratic national convention, except for a few key party bigwigs, will be selected via the caucuses. The Democrats select nothing from the primary.
Both parties kick off their caucuses at 1 p.m.
Colfax precincts meet at the Public Service Building, 310 N. Main, Colfax; Wilcox, Dusty, Hay, Hooper and LaCrosse precincts meet upstairs in the Public Service Building, 310 N. Main, Colfax; Colton and Uniontown precincts meet in the Uniontown Community Hall, 207 S. Montgomery; Garfield precinct will meet at the Garfield Community Center.;
Tekoa, Oakesdale and Farmington precincts meet at the Fraternal Hall in Oakesdale; Palouse precincts meet at 430 W. Church St.; Steptoe, Endicott, Lamont, St. John, Malden, Rosalia and Thornton precincts will meet at the St. John Community Hall.
North Pullman precincts meet at Pullman High School, 510 NW Larry St.; South Pullman precincts meet at Lincoln Middle School, 315 SE Crestview; WSU/College Hill precincts meet at the Center for Undergraduate Education (CUE) in Smith Hall.
Colfax, Steptoe and Wilcox precincts meet at Sterling Savings Bank, 803 N. Main St., Colfax; Colfax precinct 137 meets at 4202 Ed Hamilton Rd., Endicott; Dusty, Hay, Hooper and LaCrosse precincts meet at LaCrosse City Hall; Endicott precinct will meet at 401 D Street in Endicott.
St. John and Lamont precincts will meet at 4 West Short St., St. John; Colton and Uniontown precincts will meet at the Colton School Library, 706 Union Street, Colton; Garfield precinct will meet at 1008 Spokane St.; Oakesdale, Palouse, Malden, Rosalia and Thornton meet at the Oakesdale Fire Station, 108 N. 1st St.
Tekoa and Farmington precincts meet at 127 S. Leslie, Tekoa; Pullman precinct 122 meets at 345 NW Linda; All other Pullman precincts meet at Franklin School, 850 SE Klemgard.