Democrat Caucuses Deemed “Fantastic”
With a large field of Democratic candidates to discuss and consider, nearly 700 Palo Alto County Democrats participated in the “first in the nation” caucuses last Thursday. Although Palo Alto County did not follow the state trends in choosing Barack Obama as the Democratic front runner, instead putting their support behind candidate Hillary Clinton, the final results were close.
“The Democratic caucuses were fantastic,” said Norlyn Stowell, County Chair of the Palo Alto County Democrats. “There was a certain amount of excitement involved. Everything flowed nicely and worked very well.”
Out of ten Democratic caucus sites throughout Palo Alto County, a total of 688 individuals turned out to take part in the caucuses. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York received a total of 62 delegates, while Illinois Senator Barack Obama garnered 53 delegates. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards won 49 delegates and Delaware Senator Joe Biden earned 14 delegates. Six delegates went to Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico.
With an initial field of eight Democratic hopefuls for the presidential nomination, the importance of the caucuses was not lost on Palo Alto County residents, as several of the Democratic contenders had visited the county in the weeks and months leading up to Thursday’s caucuses. Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Biden, Richardson, and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd all made personal appearances in Emmetsburg. It wasn’t only the candidates who visited Palo Alto County, however. Former president Bill Clinton, “Dukes of Hazzard” TV personality Ben “Cooter” Jones, and wives and other representatives of candidates also campaigned for area votes.
When the caucuses rolled around, voters were eager to let their voices be heard. Each caucus site allowed time for discussion between the attendees, and then individuals broke into groups in support of their selected candidate. Numbers were taken to determine viability thresholds for the candidates. Depending on a candidate’s viability, supporters either stuck with their candidate of choice or gravitated to another hopeful.
“From the ten caucus sites, we heard that a huge number of new people and former independent and Republicans voters signed in on the Democratic caucuses,” Stowell noted.
In Emmetsburg Ward 1/Freedom Northwest, 107 residents filled half of the gymnasium at the Smith Wellness Center to caucus. Clinton amassed nine delegates; Obama earned eight delegates; and Biden earned four delegates.
Emmetsburg Ward 2, meeting at the Smith Wellness Center gymnasium, boasted a turn-out of 126 residents. Clinton won 10 delegates; Obama took six delegates; and Biden and Edwards both earned three delegates apiece.
Emmetsburg Ward 3/Emmetsburg Southeast, also convened at the Smith Wellness Center gymnasium, and featured 67 voters who gave Clinton six delegates and four delegates each to Biden, Edwards, and Obama.
Emmetsburg Ward 4 met in two rooms at Iowa Lakes Community College with 78 residents attending. Clinton won 11 delegates; Edwards won six delegates; and Obama took five delegates.
Thirty-nine voters from Ellington/Rush Lake Precinct met at the Mallard Community Center and gave Edwards five delegates, Clinton three delegates, and Obama two delegates.
Lost Island/Walnut Precinct gathered at the Graettinger Public Library with 64 residents present. Six delegates went to Obama, five delegates apiece went to Clinton and Edwards, and four delegates went to Richardson.
Phillip Currans of rural Ruthven hosted the Highland/Lost Island Southwest Precinct in his home. Thirty-six voters attended the caucus with 11 delegates going to Obama, four delegates to Clinton, and three delegates to Edwards.
Forty-six attended the Fairfield/Freedom/Independence/Vernon Precinct Caucus at the Fire Hall in Cylinder Fire. Sixteen delegates went to Edwards, five delegates to Clinton, and four delegates to Obama.
Booth/Emmetsburg/Great Oak/Nevada/Silver Lake Precinct saw 59 caucus-goers. Clinton won five delegates; Edwards and Obama each won three delegates apiece, and Richardson won two delegates.
A total of 66 voters met at the West Bend Public Library as part of the Fairfield Southeast/Fern Valley/West Bend caucus. Four delegates each went to Clinton, Edwards, and Obama. Biden received three delegates.
“We are very appreciative of the support of the host sites,” said Stowell. “The Wellness Center, libraries, fire hall, and American Legion unlocked their doors and were very accommodating to this process.”
Delegates now look forward to the Democrat County Convention planned for Saturday, Mar. 15, at 9 a.m. The event should last between one and two hours. According to Stowell, the caucus site has not yet been determined.
“We’re looking for a location with a good size capacity,” Stowell explained. “We are expecting a great turn-out.”