Hella Bus Blog
Washington's Republicans held their caucuses Saturday, and according to the GOP, Washington is Romney country. The former Massachusetts Governor garnered the support of 38% of caucus-goers, a relatively large margin compared to 25% for Ron Paul, 24% for Rick Santorum, and a dismal 11% for the foundering Newt Gingrich. I spent Monday much like the Monday after my 21st birthday: trying to figure out what the heck happened on Saturday. It's still a bit early to come up with some unifying narrative of the Republican race in Washington, but here are some highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective):
-Turnout was great. We don't have final numbers yet, but it's estimated that 50,000-60,000 people attended the caucuses. Washington Republicans have bucked a national trend: turnout has been down in most early contests.
-There can be a downside to high turnout: The Seattle Times is reporting around 1500 would-be caucus-goers were turned away in Kennewick. Officials told them the venue was at capacity. The local GOP leadership has apologized.
-Big names in the state GOP endorsed Romney. Secretary of State Sam Reed was a supporter, as were 3 out of our state's 4 Republican Congressional Representatives (Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler). The odd man out, Rep. Doc Hastings, didn't endorse anyone.
- The support of The Seattle Times is always a big deal, but the editorial endorsing Mitt Romney for the 2012 caucuses is notable more as a journalistic oddity: a merciless, scathing endorsement. It's so hard on the guy that it verges on comedy.
- Has Ron Paul gamed the system? The majority of Washington caucus-goers supported Romney, but the Paul campaign has a strategy that they think could give him the majority of our delegates. Over at The Stranger, Eli Sanders talked to one of Paul's "Manchurian Delegates."
Compared to the way most of the world does democracy, the caucuses are a little strange, and the national 2012 Republican race has been far more than a little strange, but despite the flaws our hats are off to anyone who takes time out of their Saturday to get involved in such an important process. Good work, Washington Republicans, and we'll see you in four years.
Now that the dust has settled, and Mitt Romney has been declared the winner of both the Michigan and Arizona primaries, the Republican candidates for president are setting their sights on the next state competition.
And that means the next battle will be taking place in our very own Evergreen State.
This Saturday, March 3rd, Republicans all over Washington will hold caucuses to determine which candidate will receive our 43 delegates. Even more than primaries, caucuses tend to bring out the most enthusiastic and determined voters, as they require several hours to complete. Oh, and they take place on Saturday morning. Ouch.
With the national momentum now swinging back towards Mitt Romney, the other candidates will try to leverage a Washington win into coverage, energy, and a new (yes, again) narrative heading into Super Tuesday.
Candidates are starting to show their faces. Both Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were here campaigning earlier in the month, and are returning for events this week. Mitt Romney will be holding a fundraiser in Bellevue this Thursday, an event that was planned well before the Washington caucus had prominence, but one that is fortuitously timed.
University of Washington Professor David Domke wrote an excellent piece last week detailing five specific reasons why 2012 is the year for Washington to matter in the Republican primary calendar.
The biggest reason? That would be our 43 delegates. Only one other state so far - Florida - has parceled out more delegates. And while much attention has been given to stress the importance of Michigan, that state only awards 30 total delegates.
Winning is not everything in the primaries. Momentum is the name of the game, and the winner in Washington will be able walk into Super Tuesday contests with some serious swagger and a nice chunk of delegates.