Saturday, February 07, 2004

Caucus Chalk Circle

So in years to come, people will ask me, "So, Jeff, how did you end being an John Edwards delegate?"

Well, its complicated.

The Washington State Democratic Party held its caucus this morning, and I attended as a Democrat of Rush voting district (yeah, I love the irony of the name, too). This was held at Panther Lake Elementary, in the combination auditorium/gym/cafeteria of the school (imagine a stage, lunch tables folded up against the wall, and a climbing rope hanging from the ceiling). It was extremely well-organized by a young man named Tyler and others of the Democratic party, and I did a couple headcounts - 80, then 100, then 120, and there I stopped with more people coming in the door. This was one of 8 caucuses in the 47th District. Tyler's organizers and the Dean campaign both brought donuts.

Several people spoke on Dean, Kerry, and the virtues of remaining uncommitted, then we broke into small groups by voting district. There were a total of nine people in our group. Most of them were next-door neighbors, and most of those were for solidly for Kerry. Indeed, I was the ONLY DEAN SUPPORTER in our little pod. Initial votes were Kerry 5, Dean 1, Edwards 1, and 2 Uncommitted.

Now under the rules of the caucus, Dean and Edwards had to get at least 15% ( in our case 2 votes) in order to move on (and how I was mocking Kucinich supporters in the earlier post- HAH!). Our Kerry group was relatively older (one was wearing her father's Adlai Stevenson button), very well prepared, and sold on the electibility meme. One of the leading Kerry supporters was a pleasant young woman that ended every sentence with the word "and", making it difficult to answer her points without seeming like interupting. This is politics at the micro level, and it was very good.

I pointed out the PAC problem. I noted a failure in reaching out to a new target market of voters. I pointed out Kerry's voting record as a senator made him vulnerable to all sorts of attacks across the political spectrum. I failed to sway them, and though several of them admitted a great preference to Dean, they felt Kerry was going to win. One of the Uncommitted went to Kerry. One of the Kerrys went to Edwards. The other Uncommitted went to Edwards.

So my choice was to drop out (leave the caucus), join Kerry, or to join Edwards. And to be frank, while I can support any of the candidates, I have more reservations about Kerry than anyone else currently in the field, so I jumped to Edwards. At the time I felt the move was SBK (Somebody But Kerry).

The groups ended up five and four, Kerry and Edwards. Our voting precinct had four delegates going on to the next higher caucus, so that broke down to 2 and 2. The Kerrys picked two of their number and Edwards group had to pick two of the four supporters. Well, the original Edwards supporter was a given, but the Uncommitted and Kerry swings (a married couple) didn't have the time, so the Former Dean Supporter stepped forward to be an official Edwards delegate.

Here are final tallies from our entire group
Kerry - 61 votes for 31 delegates
Dean - 23 votes for 11 delegates
Edwards - 8 votes for 3 delegates (two of them from Rush)
Clarke - 3 votes for 1 delegate
Kucinich - 8 votes for 4 delegates
Uncommitted - 3 votes for 3 delegates

So on one hand I'm a little disappointed - I definitely got the idea from some of my fellow Democrats that they felt that Dean was their personal choice, but were scared off by the Unelectability Sign that was hung around his neck. I mean, we were there to elect someone, and if we had chosen Dean, we would have, de facto become electable. But I may just be too much of an old radical.

But I will try to keep my bomb-throwing tendencies to a minimum (no, really), and dispence with my agreed-to duty to support John Edwards. And so I'm going to the next level, on May 1, and I have to do a little more research. Those Kerry supporters are sharp.

More later,