Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Local Republicans pack 'em in at 2016 presidential caucus

Look for the sign of the blue bison.
On Tuesday, it was SRO at the presidential caucus for the Laramie County Republicans here in Cheyenne.

As of 9:39 a.m. on Wednesday, results still weren't available. Some 778 Repubs stood in line at LCCC to cast their votes for one of the remaining candidates on the national ballot: Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson.

Four years ago,  when Mitt Romney appeared to have the nomination in the bag, some 170 Republicans made it out to caucus. Next step is the county convention on March 12 and then the state convention in April.

Those talking heads who say that Donald Trump is increasing voter turnout may be right. It's a pitched battle this year among establishment Republicans and maverick Republicans. Trump, the billionaire and TV star, is a maverick and leads the pack. Cruz may be wackier than The Donald, but not as eager to bloviate in the presence of the media. Rubio's Cuban heritage may help him when Florida votes on The Ides of March. Florida conservatives include those who fled Castro, the oldest commie in existence. But Miami is a hip place these days. Hipsters are not as likely to vote for Republicans as their Baby Boomer parents and grandparents. Florida is much more urban than when I was growing up there in the 1960s and 1970s, Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee. Florida has plenty of rural left, although it doesn't seem like it as you blast down I-4 with thousands of your closest friends eager to get away from it all on the World's Most Famous Beach. The Panhandle has much more in common with East Jesus, Alabama, than Orlando. The crackpot legislation that flows out of the Florida capitol building in Tally is akin to the crazy, ultra-conservative claptrap that issues forth from legislatures in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Mississippi

How did our local Republicans increase their caucus participation six-fold? With no incumbent, it's a wide-open field. At one point, 13 Repuibs were in the race. Debates started last fall, which helped to get people's attention. The media's nightly parade of Trumpisms never lets us forget who's in the driver's seat. In 2012, Mitt Romney often complained he was being ignored by the media. Meanwhile, Press. Obama was on the news every day and every night. This was especially true in the campaign's waning days, when Pres. Obama was constantly shown looking presidential (with Chris Christie's help) in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Christie looked gubernatorial; Obama looked presidential. Some Repubs are still sore at Christie for colluding with Democrats.

The 2016 Democratic caucus will be held on Saturday, April 9. Since Chris and I will be out-of-state that weekend, we will vote beforehand.  Both of us are liberal Democrats. This makes for a peaceful home most of the time. But in 2008, I worked for the Obama campaign while Chris worked for Hillary. You know that election years can be tough on those mixed marriages that pairs a D with an R. Try being in the same party working for basically the same goals but feelings strongly that your candidate can save the world and the other will lead us to Perdition, which is located somewhere between Devils Tower and Colter's Hell..

Chris and I caucused with other Dems on March 8, 2008. We voted to switch our caucus site from the VFW basement on Nationway to the downtown Civic Center. Turnout was going to be huge, said our Dem leaders. So huge that we needed one of the largest venues in Cheyenne for a caucus? You betcha.

At my first-ever Democratic caucus in 2004, barely 100 people came out to vote. John Kerry won the most delegates. I traveled alone to Sheridan to represent the left-wing contingent as a Dennis Kucinich delegate.  We held our state convention at the Sheridan Holiday Inn. Although we argued and voted and speechified in the ballroom, I've seen bigger crowds in that room. Me and my Fellow Travelers arranged for Kucinich to call in from Cleveland, his hometown. He did. Not a packed house for his call. I huddled with other Kucinich delegates. We hooted and hollered when necessary. We applauded his best lines. In case your memory of 2004 is faulty, Kucinich was a Catholic anti-war candidate and got a lot of attention in 2004. At the convention, my leftie colleagues and I proposed a series of anti-war planks to the platform. They were all voted down. Too radical. Too far out of the mainstream of our moderately conservative state party.

I was a 53-year-old voter who cast his first presidential vote at 21 for wild-eyed anti-war radical George McGovern of neighboring South Dakota. This war-hero bomber-pilot wanted to bring our troops home from Vietnam right now. Peace now -- not peace in our time, as Nixon wanted. We now know that Tricky Dick was working behind the scenes to make sure that North Vietnam did not treat U.S. peace overtures seriously.

I learned a lot at the 2004 Sheridan convention. I won't bore you here with the details. There was one big lesson: Get involved in the process earlier. This is important because those who are active in the party get to go to the state convention and -- more importantly -- the national convention which, in 2004, was held in Boston. So, I got involved in the county party and was elected as secretary -- the person who keeps the minutes. Chris and I became precinct man and woman. At the tail end of 2007, we were poised to wrest control of the presidency from Dubya. I was for Kucinich -- again -- and Chris worked for Hillary. Chris was a member of NOW during the tussle over the Equal Rights Amendment. She also worked on Patricia Schroeder's campaign for the U.S. House seat from Denver. Pat won.

We often were sidetracked by the daily necessities of life., by the challenges of raising two special needs kids. Not to mention -- work. We attended meetings and rallies and walked neighborhoods for candidates. When we attended the caucus on March 8, 2008, we stood in line with everyone else, making sure we were there in plenty of time to register for the caucus. There was some discontent when people arrived midway through the process, wanted to vote and couldn't. This time we're giving people fair warning. Be registered to vote as a Democrat by March 25 and show up at the caucus before 11 a.m. on April 9. .

During Memorial Day weekend 2008, we drove to the state convention in Jackson. Our daughter Annie rode with us. She swam in Snow King's heated outdoor pool while the snow fell. Chris and I spent the day in the convention center, caucusing with our peers. Obama received the lion's share of delegates. Hillary was a close second. We all looked forward to traveling to Denver for the national convention .

In 2016, it will be to close to call between Sanders and Clinton. I am closer to Sanders' politics than I am to Hillary's. Butt I am going to be practical and vote for Hillary so she can beat the bejesus out of Trump or whomever takes the prize on the Repub side.

Here's the lowdown on the county caucus:

Where: Plains Hotel, 1600 Central Ave, Cheyenne, WY 82001
When: Saturday April 9, 11 a.m.
Contact: to be put in touch with a local organizer
For info on the May 28 state convention in Cheyenne, go to

No comments: