I Caucused!

>> Saturday, February 9, 2008

For the first time ever! I didn't realize the caucuses were this weekend until a few days ago until I heard that Hillary, Barack and McCain were campaigning in Washington yesterday. I received my absentee ballot in the mail last week for the primary, which is what I thought was most important. I had heard some people on my vanpool complaining about the primary, but I got into the conversation late because I was in the process of getting onto the van. I was never sure why they were mad about the primary.

I figured it was this morning so I blew it off because I had already signed up for a food workers' permit re-certification class at the Grand. I was planning on seeing the early show of There Will Be Blood until someone at the Grand mentioned that the caucuses were at 1 o'clock. I decided then that I had to go. I had the time, and I got a second chance to participate. It was too important to blow off.

Because I do NOT want Hillary to win.

My district met at Jason Lee Middle School. It's so close that I walked to it. I left just afternoon because I heard at the Grand that we should be there by 12:30 to sign in. I got there about 12:15. I think the room we met in was one of the lunch rooms but not sure. Anyhow, my district (27th) was split into precincts. Not something I was expecting. I had my voter registration card on me, which had my old address before I moved. I found out that when I moved, I moved into a new precinct just barely. I live on the border line.

Anyhow, because I got there early I was able to help with some of the sign-in paper work for my precinct. There weren't many people when I got there. I was able to get a brownie and a Barack Obama sticker when I walked in. There seemed to be more Hillary supporters than Barack supporters when I first got there. After about 15 minutes, people really started trickling in. By 1 o'clock, our precinct was so large that we were moved out of the lunch room into one of the main foyers near the front entrance.

This ended up being a long afternoon, particularly because we had SO many people. If I remember correctly, my precinct (27-314) had 258 people sign-in. 186 stayed around to talk. The chair and vice chair for our precinct said that we had many more people than in 2004. In 2004, about 90 people showed up. The chairs anticipated 50% more people, and the precinct greatly exceeded their expectations.

While they counted the sign-in votes (preferences?) for candidates, a person from both Obama and Clinton sides were allowed to speak. I don't remember what the Hillary candidate said, mainly because she was second, but the first person to speak was an 84-year-old lady. She didn't speak directly about Obama when she started. She spoke of past political history: working Reagan, people who sacrificed during WWII and how big of a political junkie she is. It wasn't until her last few sentences when she mentioned that she was inspired by Barack Obama and hadn't been this excited about a candidate in 40 years or more. I was certain she was going to come out for Hillary, by the way, until she mentioned she was for Barack.

And this is the way it went for most of the caucus. When we were split into candidate groups, there was FAR more support for Barack than there was for Hillary. I was quite surprised. I expected it to be much more even, possibly close to 50/50. The 314th precinct has 22 delegates. Obama got 16, Hillary 5 and undecided 1.

There was a group conversation after the votes were tallied. A person from the Barack side spoke, then a person from the Hillary side and finally a person from the undecided group. We did three or four rounds of speaking. A few undecideds changed to Barack and only one to Hillary, but it was not enough to change the delegate count.

Next was electing the delegates. We actually kept it pretty short because we had to elect 16 delegates and 16 alternates for a total of 32. I was so moved by everything that I heard about Obama that I even raised my hand for a moment when they were looking for delegates. I decided not to continue trying to be a delegate because there were clearly many other people more passionate than me.

What was most surprising, when the delegate nominees were giving a short speech about why they should be a delegate, was how vehemently many people were anti-Hillary. I'm not saying that these people weren't pro-Obama, they clearly were and could give many reasons why, but none of them wanted to see Hillary in the White House. The two I remember most clearly were a lady who mentioned that she did not want to see the White House to continue to be in control of two political families and another lady who mentioned the difference in Hillary and Barack's votes on a treaty banning land mines (Barack voted to approve the treaty thus banning land mines, Hillary did not).

Initially when this all began, I was more of an Edwards supporter because I liked his focus on poverty issues and corporate greed. Still kind of bummed that he dropped out of the race. I'm firmly an Obama supporter now; although I'm still hoping for an Obama/Edwards ticket. So much so that I was inspired today to sign up as a volunteer at barackobama.com.


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