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Oak Harbor GOP caucus draws an estimated 500

North Whidbey resident Heather Leahy-Mack votes for Rick Santorum in the straw poll at Saturday’s bustling Republican caucus at Oak Harbor High School. She and her husband brought their five children, including baby Sean.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
North Whidbey resident Heather Leahy-Mack votes for Rick Santorum in the straw poll at Saturday’s bustling Republican caucus at Oak Harbor High School. She and her husband brought their five children, including baby Sean.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

About 500 fired-up Republicans attended the caucus in Oak Harbor Saturday to show their support for their favorite presidential candidates and commiserate with fellow conservatives.

“It was a huge turnout,” said Sam Cunningham, the caucus chairman. “This is far more than we expected.”

The results of the straw poll taken at the caucus at Oak Harbor High School, which represented 40 precincts, showed that the views of Republicans on North and Central Whidbey do not mirror those in the rest of the state and may be more conservative. Former senator Rick Santorum, who’s considered by many as the most socially conservative of the pack, was just a few votes shy of Romney, according to results from Oak Harbor.

Mitt Romney earned the most votes, as he did in the other county caucuses and the state as a whole, but his margin was much smaller in Oak Harbor. Santorum did significantly better in Oak Harbor than he did in the rest of the state.

Of those who participated in the non-binding poll in Oak Harbor, 115 voted for Romney, 112 voted for Santorum, 75 voted for Ron Paul, 55 supported Newt Gingrich and 14 were undecided. That equates to 31 percent for Romney and 30 percent for Santorum.

That’s significantly different than the state results, which showed Romney way ahead with 38 percent, Paul in second with 25 percent and Santorum in third with 24 percent. Gingrich earned 10 percent of the vote.

North Whidbey resident Heather Leahy-Mack was one of the attendees who vigorously support Santorum. She attended the caucus with her husband and five children to support the candidate known as a strong social conservative.

“The issue of religious liberties is really concerning us,” she said.

The mood of the caucus was one of urgency and some anger. One speaker earned applause by calling President Barack Obama a “numbskull,” while others criticized him for having had “on the job training.” A couple of speakers accused the mainstream media of trying to influence the nominating process.

Paul was the only candidate who sent an official representative of his campaign to speak in Oak Harbor. Steve Vaughn pointed out that Paul was the only candidate to vote against the war in Iraq.

“He is a man of honor, he is a man of integrity, he is a man of action,” he said.

Roy Allen discussed Romney’s merits as a leader who knows how to get people to work together.

“We really need someone who can get this country moving again,” he said.

Jason Joiner earned loud applause in a spirited speech about Santorum. He described the candidate as a true conservative who won’t compromise his moral principles.

“This form of government doesn’t work unless you have a moral compass in your leadership,” he said.

 

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