Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama picks up Idaho endorsements

Presidential candidate to speak in Gem State Saturday


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Idaho Saturday.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is gaining momentum in Idaho leading up to the state's Tuesday, Feb. 5, Super Tuesday caucuses.

Obama is the only Democratic candidate whose representatives have been actively campaigning in Idaho for the Democratic Party's nomination. The campaign opened its fifth Idaho office in Ketchum on Monday.

What's more, the Idaho for Obama campaign announced Tuesday that the senator would arrive in Idaho on Saturday, Feb. 2, to give a speech. The event will be free, although time and location are still being sorted out, and Blaine for Obama organizers are chartering busses to travel from Blaine County to the event.

Blaine for Obama Co-Chair Michael Ames said there will be 30 VIP seats on the floor reserved for Blaine County residents. To get one of those, supporters are asked to make 100 phone calls in Blaine County telling people about the Feb. 5 caucus.

For information about the event, the buses or to try to obtain one of the 30 seats, people should contact Blaine County Field Organizer Cyrus Garrett at (630) 651-7926 or e-mail him at wgarrett@barackobama.com. Also available are the Blaine County co-chairs at blaineforobama@gmail.com.

Ames said the three people in the state who make the most phone calls leading up the caucus will get face-to-face sit-down time with Obama.

Beyond Obama, however, Idaho supporters of Sen. John Edwards this week joined the fray, announcing that caucus coordinators are in place in 40 of the state's 44 counties.

"We are excited and working to make sure that Idaho Democrats' voices are heard," said Idahoans for Edwards Co-Chair Bill Mauk. "The national campaign is incredibly invigorated and has great energy, as does the Idaho effort. Idaho is just one of the states Sen. Edwards is looking solid in for Feb. 5."

The announcement of Obama's visit, however, follows a recent wave of endorsements by Idaho's leading Democratic lawmakers.

The 18 legislators, who include all but one of the House and Senate minority leadership, make up 67 percent of the Democrats serving in the state capitol.

"I am supporting Barack Obama because I believe he represents a new approach to our country," said House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum. "He is a unifier. He will address change. He will not be afraid to tackle the numerous problems that confront our country, such as the challenges with high oil prices and health care."

Jaquet said Obama's message appeals to independents and Republicans as well as Democrats and that he is the Democratic Party's best candidate to take back the White House.

Among those who have backed Obama are State Rep. Jerry Shively, D-Bonneville County, and House Minority Chairman John Rusche, D-Lewiston.

"Over the last eight years we've had a house divided against itself," said Shively. "America needs a president who is a consensus builder. Barack Obama is the candidate who can get that done."

Rusche said Obama has the ability to draw people out who are looking for a vision for the future.

"Regardless if they're on different sides of the baby-boom generation, regardless if they're Democrat, Republican or independent, he knows how to get us all on the same side," Rusche said.

The Idaho for Obama campaign opened four offices in the state since September in preparation for the Feb. 5 caucuses. On Monday the campaign opened a Ketchum Headquarters, marking the fifth office in the state.

The office is located at the Ketchum Office Club at 160 Second St., Suite 101.

According to a press release, the Ketchum office opened in response to the groundswell of volunteer support in the Wood River Valley.

"This is a proud day for our democratic county, marking a movement when a candidate for president recognized that political energy in "red" states is no less vital than in our "blue" brethren," says a Blaine for Obama press release. "By establishing a network of support here in conservative Idaho, Barack Obama proves his vision of unity and takes a defining step toward healing a divided nation."

Caucus next Tuesday in Hailey

Democratic Caucus

What: Democratic presidential nomination caucus.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Community Campus, Hailey.

The Blaine County Democratic Caucus will be Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Community Campus in Hailey. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and will close by 7 p.m., when additional people will not be permitted to enter.

Eleven delegates seats and up to 11 alternate seats will be up for grabs in Blaine County, and for the first time ever the Democratic county caucuses in the state will be held on Super Tuesday.

Moving the date ahead to Feb. 5 puts Idaho in line with other Western states—Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado—to create a new "Super Duper" Tuesday for the Rockies. At stake are the allegiances of 23 delegates from Idaho, 18 of whom will be decided by average voters. The other five will be chosen by Democratic Party officials.

The Democratic State Convention will be held June 12 to 14 at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise.

The Republican primary will be held Tuesday, May 27.




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