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For the week of Mar. 8 through Mar. 14, 2000

County Democrats choose delegates

Express Staff Writer

Idaho Democrats took a major step toward selecting a presidential candidate last night during the 44 county nominating caucuses held across the state.

In Blaine County, voters gathered at the Blaine County Senior Center in Hailey, where they cast votes for Vice President Al Gore and former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.

The ratio of votes for each candidate determines the ratio of Blaine County delegates, out of a total of seven, who will attend the state Democratic convention in Caldwell on June 22.

Blaine County Democratic chairwoman Sally Donart, who organized the caucus, said during an interview that this year’s race is one of the closest she’s seen.

"This is an exciting year in the primaries," she said. "I think that we have two very important races in both parties, and I think that’s good for democracy."

Because Idaho has an open primary system with unregistered voters able to cast ballots for any party, Democrats select candidates in a caucus system designed to prevent voters from switching parties between the primaries and the general election.

Upon entering the caucus last night, voters signed a pledge declaring their party affiliation and candidate choice. They also agreed to have the pledge published in newspapers.

Because participants are "bound by party tradition," Donart said, the caucus system ensures that voters choose like-minded candidates who will carry the local message to the national convention in Los Angeles this summer.

Tuesday was an important date nationwide for both Republicans and Democrats who held nominating contests in 15 states.

Results from yesterday’s contests could foretell final nominations in the national conventions this summer.

Idaho Republicans hold their nominating primary on May 23.


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