Monday, February 11, 2008
The Pooled Pullman GOP Caucus: My View
My apologies. I had intended to get this out earlier, but the Huckabee-WSRP PR fiasco took over.
Here are my observations from Saturday's pooled Pullman GOP caucus, in no particular order:
Did the WSU basketball game, the commanding delegate lead by McCain, and Thompson and Romney dropping out of the race affect the turnout? Probably.
However, I figure there were at least 100 people at the caucus (see pictures), which is way more than any other county Republican event I have ever attended, and that was just in Pullman. There were many faces I had never seen before. There was also, as I understand, an above-average turnout county-wide.
Many of the new faces, of course, were supporters of Ron Paul. They were wearing buttons and passing out flyers at the entrance to Franklin. Overall, I can say nothing bad about them. They were young (mostly WSU students), idealistic, passionate, well-organized and, best of all, respectful and polite. There were no disruptions, loud protests, or chanting. Some of the resolutions had a distinctly libertarian slant (see below) and were pretty far away from the normal Whitman County Republcian platform. But, as I discussed with some long-time Whitman County Republican faithfuls, it was nice to have some fresh air and youthful energy.
Now, Ron Paul supporters, your guy didn't win and he's already ruled out a third party run. We have a full slate of state and local races (U.S. Congress, Governor, state senator and two state representatives, and two county commissioners) coming up this fall. All the Republican candidates for those offices share your view of limited government. Will you stand with us to help get them reelected? Prove your detractors wrong that are you just tinfoilers and not real Republicans. Don't step back in the political shadows. Make your voice heard! Local government has far more day-to-day impact than the federal government.
There were a plethora of resolutions from the floor that took an hour and a half to discuss and vote on. Overall, it was pretty fun and not angry or controversial at all.
Jim Logan introduced a resolution about holding a national primary at roughly the same time, so that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida don't get to choose the party's nominee. After a lot of amendments and discussion, this passed. Folks on the rural and remote Palouse feel pretty disenfranchised, especially after seeing that every farmer in Iowa seemingly gets a candidate's visit.
I introduced a resolution concerning the Department of Ecology's riduculous stormwater licensing requirements for Pullman and how DOE should either grant relief to Eastern Washington cities or provide the funding to meet the mandates. It passed unanimously. I think it was one of the Ron Paul supporters that mentioned we should just abolish DOE. I second that motion!
There was another resolution that evoked quite a bit of discussion concerning electronic voting (apparently a real concern with Ron Paul supporters) that passed. After 2004, Republicans in Washington are naturally going to be distrustful of all kinds of possible voter fraud.
National presidential primary concerns came up again with a resolution that called for the elimination of winner-take-all presidential primaries. It also passed.
The most Paulian and most controversial resolution was one that said the U.S. should only uses its military power when there was a clear and present danger to U.S. soil. There was a lot of debate about the Constitutiopn and how only Congress could declare war, but ultimately this resolution failed.
A very strong resolution concerning stopping benefits and incentives, including public education, to illegal immigrants passed by a handy margin. Senator McCain is going to have a real problem with the base of the party in the immigration issue.
Another very Paulian resolution concerning not participating in trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA passed by a narrow margin. I spoke with one of our elected officials later that many of these young Paul ideologues obviously don't realize that most of the agricultural products grown in Whitman County are sold overseas and that crippling international trade would put most of our local farmers out of business.
Pullman City Councilman Francis Benjamin served as the permanent caucus chair, and as always, proved himself to be the Roberts Ruler of Order par excellence. He kept things on track and on time.
The WSU College Republicans, led by Chris DelBeccaro, were on hand to help out with the logisitics of registration and counting and did a fantastic job. As always, I had fun chatting with them.
Each of the participants at the precinct caucuses registered their presidential preference. I don't have those results, nor are they particularly relevant, as only the delegates elected to the county convention really matter. And many of those elected Saturday probably won't even go the county convention March 8. All we really know is that about a third of the roughly 20 Whitman County delegates that go the state convention on May 31 should be Mike Huckabee supporters. With only 37 open Washington national delegates, it's unlikely anyone from Whitman County will go as a primary delegate to the national convention, but you never know.
Here are the delegates that were elected and their presidential preferences:
Mike Huckabee - 17
Ron Paul - 10
John McCain - 9
Mitt Romney - 5
Uncommitted - 3
A note on Ron Paul: Paul may very well have received more delegates in Pullman based on his number of supporters. But the number of precinct delegates are chosen based on the number of Republican votes received in the last statewide election. For campus precincts, obviously, that's not a lot. So while 5 students may have showed up for Paul in a particular precinct, only two could be elected as delegates. That is another reason for you Ron Paul supporters to work harder on our state and local races so that you can increase your caucus representation. Plus, PCOs are automatically county delegates.
I had a chance to talk with Daily News reporter Devin Rokyta at Saturday's caucus. He's a very down-to-earth guy. Definitely my favorite Daily News reporter since Michelle Dupler.
Okay, I have to say this. Based on my profession, the profession of many contributors at this blog, and now the apparent profession of many Ron Paul supporters, there definitely seems to be a scientific connection between being an IT geek and a libertarian/conservative.