Republicans pick their favorites for president

Republicans in Island County will get their chance next month to help choose the party’s nominee for president.

The Republican precinct caucuses will be held in the state on Saturday, March 3, just three days before Super Tuesday. In Island County, they will be pooled at locations in Oak Harbor, Langley and Camano Island. Attendance is expected to be substantial.

“It really is a fascinating process because it’s so grassroots,” said Brett Wilhelm, the chairman of the Island County Republican Party. “It’s truly a bottom-up arrangement.”

Some political analysts have predicted that the caucus in Washington could be especially significant for the candidates in building momentum toward  Super Tuesday, which is when 10 states hold nominating contests.

In addition, Wilhelm speculates that delegates from the state could have an important role if the nominee is ultimately picked at a “brokered convention.” That would occur if none of the candidates came to the national convention with enough delegates to secure the nomination. A “grand compromise candidate,” possibly someone completely new in the race, would be chosen by the delegates; those from Washington could be very influential, Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm said he’s not sure how many people to expect to take part in the caucuses in Island County, but he suspects it will be a crowded, noisy but civil affair. He said taking part in the process can really be an education in both national and local politics.

“If nothing else, they are going to learn what’s important to their neighbors,” he said.

Although the Tea Party has fallen silent on Whidbey in recent months, Wilhelm said Republicans are definitely energized on the island.

“There is more attendance, more donations and more activism,” he said.

State lawmakers cancelled this year’s presidential primary to save money, so the caucuses are taking center stage.

The March 3 caucuses is only the first part of a three-phase process of choosing delegates to go to the 2012 Republican National Convention in August.

But the precinct caucuses will hold a non-binding presidential straw poll, which will likely receive serious scrutiny and publicity.

As Wilhelm explained, residents in each county precinct will choose delegates to represent them. Those delegates, along with automatic delegates, will go on to the county convention at Oak Harbor High School March 24. A total of 23 elected delegates and 23 alternates will be sent on to the state convention at the end of May.

The pool is further narrowed and a total of 40 delegates will get to go to the national convention.

The caucus for North Whidbey voters will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 3 at Oak Harbor High School. There is no fee for admission. Registered voters residing in one of the 40 precincts located on North Whidbey and part of Central Whidbey will convene for a pooled caucus in the Student Union Building at Oak Harbor High School, 1 Wildcat Way, Oak Harbor.

The caucus for South Whidbey voters will be held at the same time in the New Commons Room of South Whidbey High School, 5675 Maxwelton Road, Langley.

The Navy Outlying Field south of Coupeville serves to divide the north and south precincts. Those in precincts on the north side of the outlying field will caucus in Oak Harbor and those south of the field will caucus in Langley.

The caucus on Camano Island will be at the Lost Lake Club House.



Democrats caucus in April

Island County Democrats don’t have to help pick a presidential candidate, but their caucus could still be exciting.

After all, the precinct caucus is the first step for regular folks who hope to be delegates at the Democratic National Convention. And it’s a good opportunity to discuss politics with neighbors.

The Island County Precinct Caucuses will be held at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 15 at four locations around Island County. Each of Island County’s 83 precincts will elect delegates to the county convention.

The caucus locations will be at North Whidbey Middle School, Coupeville Middle/High School, South Whidbey High School and Utsalady Elementary School.

“Not everyone is happy about the Sunday date for the caucuses, but Washington State Democrats set this date for the state-wide meetings,” states a notice on the Island County Democrats’ website.

The Island County Convention will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 29 at Langley Middle School. Delegates chosen at the precinct caucus will elect delegates to the 2nd Congressional District Caucuses and the State Democratic Convention.


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