Super Tuesday, super showdown for the nomination
Caucuses prevent crossover voters, Democrats say
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
Amid widespread belief that complex contest rules for presidential
nominations have made for a so-far unpredictable race, Idaho Democrats tout their caucus
system as authentically representing their partys point of view, while Idaho
Republicans stand by their primary system as simple and to the point.
In Idaho, the Republican primary is set for May 23, and Democratic
caucuses in 44 Idaho counties are scheduled for the March 7 Super Tuesday, an important
date nationwide when 15 states hold contests that could foretell final party presidential
nominations later this summer.
A major issue for both parties are the high number of cross-over
votersor "Reagan Democrats," depending on your outlookwho many say
drastically affect the nominating process in states, such as Idaho, where the Republican
party counts votes cast by the opposition.
During an interview last week in Ketchum, Blaine County Democratic Party
Chairperson Sally Donart said she believes as much as 18 percent of the people who have
voted in state primaries so far for Sen. John McCain of Arizona, one of two Republican
front-runners, were in fact not Republican.
Donart, who is organizing Blaine Countys caucus in Hailey, during
which local Democrats select seven delegates to attend the June 22 state convention in
Caldwell, said, "I think each of the parties should represent their own people."
Given that McCain could be a more difficult opponent than George W. Bush
of Texas for a Democratic candidate to beat, Donart suggested cross-over voters during
primaries may be trying to influence the Republican nomination process to favor Bush.
Donart said she believes those voters will again flip-flop for the
November general election and vote Democratic.
Cheryl Miller, executive director for the Idaho Republican party, however,
rejects that idea, saying those Democrats are fed up with sleazy government.
"There was a new phrase coined in 1980," Miller said during a telephone
interview from her office in Boise, Reagan Democrats. Those people are
probably voting in the Republican primaries and are probably going to continue to vote
Either way, state and local Democrats stand by caucuses as a
"grassroots" system that truly represents the values of their party.
The caucus process of meeting like-minded people face to face, Donart
said, creates delegates who are "bound by party tradition" to carry the local
message to the national level.
Because potential delegates will be asked to sign a declaration of their
party affiliation and candidate choice on Tuesday, and agree to have that affiliation
published in newspapers, Donart said, there is little chance of committed delegates
changing their minds somewhere down the road.
After the ratios for each candidate have been determined early Tuesday
night, sub-caucuses for Gore, Bradley or uncommitted proceed to elect their share of
delegates for the state convention.
Donart encouraged any Idaho Democrat, who is an Idaho citizen at least 18
years old by Nov. 7, to participate in the Blaine County caucus, which she said most
people find "energizing."
The caucus is scheduled for March 7, at the Blaine County Senior Center,
721 S. 3rd Avenue in Hailey.
Participants must arrive before 7:30 p.m. when the doors will be barred
according to caucus rules.
For more information, call Sally Donart at 726-5808.