Lively, passionate crowds all over region
The passion seemed as important as the results, as caucus-goers — many of them first-timers — thronged school cafeterias, public...
The passion seemed as important as the results, as caucus-goers — many of them first-timers — thronged school cafeterias, public auditoriums and homes in record numbers.
Here are some snapshots from Saturday's caucuses:
All this talk about the surge of new young voters. Yet sitting across the table from each other at a Democratic caucus at White Center Heights Elementary were two elderly women who said they are more fired up about politics than ever before.
Charlotte McFail, 78, was attending her first caucus.
"I am old and crotchety, and I don't like what's happening to my country," said McFail, who was carrying a knobby walking stick that she calls her "club."
Gladys Chiarello, 83, had been to a caucus once before. She said she came out because "I'm tired of hollering at them guys on the TV."
McFail and Chiarello didn't see eye to eye on the candidates.
McFail referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as "my lady." She admires Clinton for gracefully handling "such incredible travails," including her husband's highly publicized infidelities.
Chiarello, an Obama supporter, had just the opposite take: "I really got down on her when she didn't run that husband out the door."
— Ralph Thomas
Laurie Winder says she's "never done anything Republican in my life." But the anti-war stance of Texas Congressman Ron Paul brought her to Lynnwood's Silver Creek Community Church on Saturday, where she tried passionately to sway others to the Paul camp.
Winder, who teaches at Western Washington's human-services program in Everett, stuck out her tongue at the mention of GOP front-runner John McCain, whom she views as a warmonger.
Winder's small Lynnwood-area precinct was evenly split between three Paul supporters and three McCain supporters. Winder's pleading failed to change the mind of Daniel Kohagen, 18, a student at Everett Community College, who said he respected McCain's military service and anti-abortion credentials. He looked incredulous at the thought of backing Paul, who wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
"A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for the terrorists," Kohagen said. "You can quote that."
His mother, Janet Kohagen, beamed. "Daniel wants to run for president."
— Jim Brunner
In Democratic precinct 11-2752 in Tukwila, caucus attendees split 26 for Barack Obama, 13 for Hillary Rodham Clinton and one for Dennis Kucinich. That vote was easy. The hard one was selecting four Obama delegates to the King County Democratic Convention. "I've been involved in politics in South King County for many years," said Timothy Dunn before laying out his credentials to other Obama supporters.
"I have really no political experience," said Levon Dunn, Timothy's son and rival for a delegate spot. "I'm just 17. But I thought I could represent the younger voter."
Levon, a senior at Tyee High School, turns 18 in May, making him eligible to participate in the caucus and become a delegate.
Levon, though, already had been told by his mother, Leslie Wagoner, that he couldn't be a delegate because of the time commitment. "You know what I want for him? I want him to graduate from high school," she said.
"My first vote," Levon sighed, "and it's a 'no.' "
But when the Obama supporters began choosing their delegates, Mom was busy, huddled with other Clinton supporters. That gave Levon his opening to defy her. "This is the way Kennedy started!" said Russell Bradley, who was egging Levon on.
After hearing the pitches, the Obama voters jotted down their four delegate preferences via secret ballot.
Dad made the cut. But son didn't, settling for the consolation prize of being the first alternate.
— Stuart Eskenazi
Wedgwood Elementary School in northeast Seattle was clearly Obama country Saturday.
But as 75 people gathered outside the cafeteria, a man wearing jeans, sneakers and a "Hillary!" lapel sticker piped up.
"I respect Obama," he said. "But I worry. I think we need to be careful. He's inspirational and hopeful, but can he do the job? We shouldn't be dazzled by his dazzleness alone. Dazzle doesn't get the job done."
— Haley Edwards
For Randolph and Sheryl Watkins, the 2008 presidential election is a family affair — even though not every family member is on the same page.
While Randolph and Sheryl are strong supporters of John McCain, their 19-year-old daughter is a fervent Barack Obama backer. Their two sons are both pulling for Mike Huckabee.
The parents, both 52, attended the Republican caucus at the Kentlake High School cafeteria. Randolph became a delegate by default because he and Sheryl were the only two from their precinct to show up.
While talking about his daughter, Randolph pointed to the school gym, where the Democratic caucus was being held, and jokingly sneered, "She's over there!"
Sheryl says she enjoys being able to debate politics in her household. "It's very exciting in our house," Sheryl said. "And it's so fun seeing young people — 19- and 20 year-old kids — getting involved in the political process."
— Yu Nakayama
The first round of applause in Democratic precinct 43-2853 wasn't for Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, but for caucus-goers themselves, after a tally showed 80 people turned out — more than four times the number who came in 2004.
"I've been apathetic in the last two elections, and it hasn't worked out so well for the republic," said Randall Lucas, 28, an associate with a venture-capital firm who decided just within the last two weeks to get active in the Obama campaign.
The precinct's caucus-goers, most of whom were attending their first caucus, listened politely to mini-speeches on behalf of both candidates. But it was clear most had arrived with their minds made up, as the preponderance of Obama lapel stickers indicated.
"I have nothing against the Clintons. I love Hillary Rodham Clinton," said Harley Rees, 59, a theater manager. "But I believe Obama can help us make a better world."
— Jack Broom
Eight years ago, Dylan Malone became an overnight media star when then-presidential candidate Al Gore made Malone's 6-month-old son, Ian, a poster child for national health-care reform.
That fall, Malone's family sat next to Tipper Gore at the national Democratic Convention as the vice president gave his acceptance speech, again citing Ian's insurance nightmares.
On Saturday, Malone was elected as a Democratic delegate, representing his Northwest Everett neighborhood.
"I've tried to stay active in politics as a way of honoring Ian's memory, as he died [of pneumonia] in 2004," said Malone, 34, who designs Web sites and studies political science at the University of Washington.
In 2004, Malone chaired a national effort to draft Gore into the presidential race. Now he postulates a scenario of a Denver convention with no clear winner between Obama and Clinton.
"If I could get uncommitted delegates sent to the convention, then I still can advocate for Gore," said Malone.
"It's only half as crazy as it sounds," he insisted. "It's been known to happen. It's entirely possible that neither Clinton nor Obama can win. If it gets ugly, then the party may return to its greatest statesman to unify us."
— Diane Brooks
At Stevenson Elementary School, David Kim, 42, an anesthesiologist, couldn't come to terms with Sandy Dagnon, a 66-year-old retiree, on a candidate — but that's about the only thing they couldn't agree on. While Kim held forth on Mike Huckabee and Dagnon stood firm on John McCain, the pair realized they were neighbors at the new Lincoln Square condos in downtown Bellevue.
Dagnon admitted she liked Huckabee's personality. And Kim said he respected McCain's support of the Iraq war. They never switched sides, but they exchanged phone numbers and hugged before leaving.
"They say you should never talk religion and politics," Kim said of their future meetings. "There are times you should talk about it, and this is the year."
— Ashley Bach
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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