We’ve been hearing about it for months now, caucuses and campaigns going on all over the country in the battle to win the Republican nomination for President.
These well televised elections and debates have been front and center on every news station as the nation picks away at those candidates one by one. Soon it will be Washington state’s turn to decide who they want to represent them on the November ballot for President of the United States.
On Saturday, March 3, Washingtonians who are registered voters and choose to be Republicans, will gather together around the state in school gyms or cafeterias, at private homes and at other locations statewide.
Any registered voter can attend a caucus as long as they are willing to sign a form pledging not to participate in any other party’s nomination process. At each caucus two or three attendees will be elected as delegates to the next step in the process, which is the legislative district caucus in King County, the county convention in the rest of the state.
Why do we have a caucus format instead of a presidential primary?
Well, last year Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, along with Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, proposed Senate Bill 2119, which cancels the state’s presidential primary in favor of a caucus format in an effort to save the state money.
“Reed said cancelling—he prefers the phrase ‘suspending’—the presidential primary was something he had never envisioned supporting, let alone proposing to the Legislature and Governor,” it says on the Secretary of State’s website.
The caucuses gauge the support for each presidential candidate, and those proportions are used to allocate delegates to county, legislative, congressional and state conventions, where national convention delegates are eventually chosen. The gatherings also deal with party platforms and other internal matters.
The caucus system will save the state approximately $10 million.
“We absolutely prefer the presidential primary to the old caucus system,” Reed said. “In any other year, we’d be the last people to suggest not holding the 2012 primary. I actually fought a similar move in 2004.
“But $10 million IS a lot of money when the budget gap is $5 billion and there are so many needs out there, and the voters have compelled Olympia to solve the crisis without new taxes.”
So why should you bother attending your local caucus?
This is your opportunity to have your say in who you want to represent you as the Republican candidate for President and to find out who your local delegates will be. Who knows, maybe you will end up as a delegate.
It’s only three hours out of your life and you will be educated and have the opportunity to talk to your neighbors about what you, and they, want from their candidate.
Just remember, caucuses can become a little high strung and voters with strong opinions tend to want to have their say at these events.
“It’s also true that caucuses aren’t everyone’s cup of tea — arguing with your neighbors... over politics, no less. And some voters can’t attend their caucuses—they may be stationed overseas in the military or out of town that day, or house-bound, or working at their job...,” Reed said.
Right now, this is said to be a one-time only suspension and we will see how the economy is affected in four more years.
To find out where your local Republican caucus will be held go to page 7 of this newspaper.
The Democratic caucuses will be held on April 15. They will be less active since Pres. Obama will most likely not have much competition on the democratic side.