Blaine overwhelmingly endorses
Tuesday caucus turns out record
"What a fabulous turnout for
Blaine County. This is what’s going to happen in November."
— CLINT STENNETT, Senate
"As a former chair of the
Blaine County Democrats, this is just an incredible turnout. I think it
just reflects the level of disgust with the Bush administration. Regime
change starts at home."
— JON MARVEL, Hailey
Democrat and environmental activist
Kerry rolls into Super Tuesday with
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry,
also a part-time Blaine County resident, has won 18 out of 20 state
contests so far in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kerry’s wins in Idaho, Utah and Hawaii last week give him a little more
momentum heading into next week’s Super Tuesday contests in California,
New York, Ohio and Georgia, where more than half of the 2,162 delegates
that are up for grabs are needed to win the nomination.
None of the three states that
voted last Tuesday are predicted to by key battlegrounds in November’s
general election. Idaho and Utah are staunchly Republican, and Hawaii is
equally solidly Democratic.
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Blaine County Democrats convened
in record numbers during Tuesday night’s state caucus and showed their
resounding support for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who easily won
Idaho’s and Blaine County’s contests.
The Idaho Democratic Party
reported that with all county meetings reporting Tuesday, Kerry received
54 percent of the state’s vote. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
garnered 22 percent of the vote, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
pulled in 11 percent.
Blaine County’s Democratic
caucus Tuesday boasted a record turnout, with 270 local citizens
attending to support their preferred candidates.
Express photo by Willy Cook
When county delegates convene in
Pocatello for the state Democratic convention in June, Kerry should
receive 12 delegate votes, and Edwards should get the remaining six.
In Blaine County, commonly
considered the most Democratic of Idaho’s counties and also Kerry’s home
away from home, more than four times as many Democrats braved snowy
roads to attend the 2000 Democratic caucus.
Filling the Blaine County Senior
Center in Hailey to capacity, 270 Blaine County citizens jammed in to
support their preferred candidates. Four years earlier, 68 Democrats
participated, said Blaine County Democrats Chair Betty Murphy.
"What a fabulous turnout for
Blaine County," said Idaho Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett,
D-Ketchum. "This is what’s going to happen in November."
Senate Minority Leader Clint
Stennett, D-Ketchum, led a brief auction Tuesday that will benefit
the Blaine County Democrats. House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet,
D-Ketchum, said she will continue to support Sen. John Kerry’s bid for
the White House. Express
photo by Willy Cook
At first count, Kerry had 194
supporters, enough to land all nine of the county’s delegates. After
caucusing for about a half hour, supporters for Edwards, Dean, Dennis
Kucinich and Al Sharpton pulled together to amass enough support to give
Edwards one of the county’s delegates. Dean and Kucinich supporters were
several votes short of the 15 percent threshold needed to send a
delegate to the state convention.
The Blaine County caucus was as
much a party pep rally, as it was a chance for citizens to show their
support for their preferred presidential candidates.
While event organizers were
performing a head count, Stennett auctioned a button depicting Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Vice
President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush. The button read
"Asses of Evil," and after local resident Jim Grossman said he could get
the button signed by Kerry, the bidding quickly escalated.
Ketchum Fire Department Lt. Lara
Babalis outbid a number of prominent local Democrats, including Hailey
attorney Keith Roark, who ran for Idaho Attorney General in 2003, and
Alan Blinken, who ran against Sen. Larry Craig the same year.
Babalis’ winning bid of $300 will
go to the Blaine County Democrats organization.
Betty Murphy is the chair of
the Blaine County Democrats. She said the enthusiasm expressed at
the Tuesday caucus is something she hopes to help carry through to next
November’s general presidential election. "I’m so proud that so many
turned up. It was wonderful, especially on a storm night," she said.
Express photo by Willy Cook
Idaho House Minority Leader Wendy
Jaquet, D-Ketchum, pulled for John Kerry and called him "Blaine County’s
"I’ve been involved in his
campaign, and I’ll continue to be," she said. "I think it’s really
exciting for the West, because he’s got these roots here."
Blinken, a friend and neighbor of
Kerry’s, said the Bush campaign will try any means possible to defame
"They’ll try every stunt in the
book," he said. "But you know what John says, ‘Bring it on.’"
Blinken noted that Kerry’s wife,
Teresa Heinz Kerry, has supported an overhaul of local emergency medical
services and helped save Galena Lodge, a cross-country skiing center
north of Ketchum.
Blinken’s wife, Melinda, is a
friend of Theresa Heinz Kerry and has traveled with her the past several
months on the campaign trail.
Hailey environmental activist Jon
Marvel said he, too, was supporting Kerry. Marvel chaired the Blaine
County Democrats from 1992 to 1996.
"As a former chair of the Blaine
County Democrats, this is just an incredible turnout," he said. "I think
it just reflects the level of disgust with the Bush administration.
Regime change starts at home."
Following the initial count of
candidate supporters, representatives from each group were given
opportunities to plug their presidential picks and answer questions
about their platforms.
Blinken, the spokesman for Kerry
supporters, said his candidate and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are
people who have contributed significantly to Idaho and to Blaine County.
"They are out neighbors. The kinds
of things they’ve done in our state are things they can do all over the
nation," he said. "He knows health care. He knows education. But what he
really knows is Americans."
Though there was not absolute
agreement among Democrats about who to send into the ring with Bush in
November, Dean supporter Bill Harvey said the party must ultimately
coalesce behind one candidate.
"Nothing’s going to happen unless
George Bush goes down," Harvey said. "We’ve got to bring the disaffected
voters in. If we don’t stay energized, people are going to go away."