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Palo Alto County Caucus Night

By Staff | Feb 5, 2016

SRO FOR GOP -- It was standing room only by 6:30 p.m. on Caucus Night for Palo Alto County Republicans at the Iowa Lakes Community College Auditorium. Before the caucus began, additional chairs were brought in to the auditorium while others stood in the hallways. There were 432 registered Republicans ready to state their preference in presidential candidates. --Jane Whitmore photo

The outcome of Palo Alto County Caucuses was just a little different than the state of Iowa.

Monday night, Democrat voters narrowly gave the nod to Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, mirroring the state. On the Republican side, however, Donald Trump garnered a few more votes than Ted Cruz, just opposite of the rest of the state.

Democrat Caucus

Four of the six Democrat precincts gathered a the Smith Wellness Center gymnasium. With 198 in attendance, the voters selected delegates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

“It was very, very close,” said Johnny Schad, co-chair of Palo Alto County Democrats. Had Ward 4 had an even number of people, the decision would have had to be made by a coin toss. As it was, they had one more person favoring Clinton.”

DEMOCRAT CAUCUS -- Palo Alto County Democrats met at three locations for Caucus Night. Emmetsburg voters were at the Iowa Lakes Community College gymnasium, while other caucus precincts were held in the libraries at Graettinger and West Bend. Renee Jedlicka (left) is signing in. Caucus assistants at the table are Lori Riley, Mary Ellen Munn and George VanMeter (seated, from the left). --Jane Whitmore photo

Schad stressed, “If anyone wants to see how important it is, this shows that your vote counts.”

Palo Alto County Democrats selected delegates favoring Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Emmetsburg Ward 1 has seven delegates – four for Clinton; three for Sanders.

Emmetsburg Ward 2 also has seven delegates – five for Clinton; two for Sanders.

Emmetsburg Ward 3 has 12 delegates – tied, six for Clinton; six for Sanders.

Emmetsburg Ward 4 has 13 delegates – seven for Clinton; six for Sanders,

Voters from Graettinger, Ruthven and Lost Island met at Graettinger Public Library. With 13 delegates, seven favored Clinton; six favored Sanders.

West Bend, Mallard and Curlew voters met at West Bend Public Library. With eight delegates, three favored Clinton; five favored Sanders.

There were 198 voters from Emmetsburg at the Democrat Caucus last Monday.

“One-fourth of the people attending were newly registered voters,” said Schad. “We had a good turnout for the Youth Caucus. It’s good to see young people interested in getting involved.”

The Democrat County Convention will be held March 12. The location will be announced at a later date.

“We were glad to have a good turnout for the caucus,” said Schad, “and we were good everyone made it home before the blizzard.”

Republican Caucus

It was standing room only for Palo Alto County Republicans in the auditorium at Iowa Lakes Community College. Every seat was filled, more chairs were brought in and people were standing in the aisles and the hallways. With a field of a dozen Republican candidates from which to choose, all wanted to cast a ballot.

“I had no idea there are so many Republicans in Palo Alto County,” Jesse Wolfe,County Republican Chair, said with a laugh. By show of hands, approximately on-third of the crowd was first time caucus goers.

Palo Alto County voters spoke on behalf of candidates seeking the office of President of the United States.

Locally, Carmen Moser announced she is seeking re-election as Palo Alto County Auditor.

Ron Graettinger announced he is seeking another term as Palo Alto County Supervisor from District 4.

When voters went to their respective precincts, 432 votes were cast.

Palo Alto Republicans divided into six precincts:

– Nevada, West Bend, Rush Lake, Ellington, Great Oak and Booth voters.

– Emmetsburg Ward 1 voters.

– Emmetsburg Ward 2 voters.

– Emmetsburg Ward 3, Silver Lake, part Walnut, part Highland and part Emmetsburg voters.

– Graettinger, Ruthven, Lost Island, part Walnut and part Highland voters.

– Emmetsburg Ward 4, Fern Valley, Fairfield, Freedom, Vernon, Independence and part Emmetsburg voters.

Palo Alto County Republicans cast votes for the following presidential candidates:

Jeb Bush – 14

Ben Carson – 40

Chris Christie – 6

Ted Cruz – 110

Carly Fiorina – 9

Jim Gilmore – 0

Mike Huckabee – 17

John Kasich – 5

Rand Paul – 15

Marco Rubio – 94

Rick Santorum – 5

Donald Trump – 117

Gabe Morey, a senior at West Bend-Mallard High School, was a first-time caucus goer. Attending with his parents, he found the evening to be “pretty interesting.”

“It’s interesting to see who shows up and it’s interesting to see the local numbers,” he said. “I was a little surprised at how the numbers went.”

Morey had a good idea which candidate he was going to support before he attended the caucus. His candidate did well in the local caucus.

“Everybody is interested,” Morey observed. “This is an on-the-edge election. Both sides can really make a difference.”

The soon-to-be 18-year-old is anxious to vote in November.

Palo Alto County Republicans named 30 delegates, plus alternates and junior delegates to the County Convention. The Palo Alto County Republican Convention will be held March 12 at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg.