Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Caucus

The storm I mentioned yesterday moved out of our end of the state overnight. We awoke to temperatures already out of the freezing. By 8 this morning, what remaining snow/sleet/ice groundcover was melting quickly? So I decided I would attend our town’s Republican caucus. It was an interesting 90 minutes or so.

Senator Collins was there representing herself. She spoke passionately to us on why she should be returned to the Senate and compared her basic record with that of her opponent. She was upbeat and positive. Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee had representatives there who were equally as passionate about their candidates. The final activity of the caucus was a straw vote for who we would like elected.

Most of the caucus was a business meeting which first elected the folks were going to run the event. I got the distinct impression that the leaders had been predetermined and our task was to formalize the choices. The main, possibly the only real reason for the caucus, was to elect town delegates to the state convention in May. As we entered the room, we were given a form to complete and on the form were choices to attend the state convention and to serve on the town committee. Fewer than the allowed delegates indicated a desire to go to the convention so a simple motion to elect all that volunteered passed. The names were not read.

Elections to the town committee were handled the same way. Everyone who indicated a willingness to serve on the registration form was elected.

As the straw voting began for the presidential choice, several folk wanted to know how the choice would be linked to the convention delegates. The simple answer: it won’t. In fact, the straw voting in Maine really accomplishes nothing tangible other than letting the delegates know who was preferred, but there’s nothing binding. Furthermore, in Maine the state convention delegates elect the delegates to the national convention, and they, too, are not bound in any way to vote for a particular candidate.

The caucus leaders tried very hard to convince us that this system works and that the state delegates will listen to the desires of the party members and vote accordingly for delegates that do not have to vote in the national convention in any way other than their own choices. I’m not sure very many people bought the argument. There were many grumblings during the session today and on the way out the door after adjournment to return to the primary system for the next election.

The results of that now-we-know-not-too-official straw vote showed Mitt Romney gained 60 votes and John McCain had 35 as the top two vote getters. I don’t recall the numbers of the other two real contenders, but I think Mike Huckabee has a few more than Ron Paul. John (I think it was John) Cox didn’t get a vote. When Cox’s name was given as one of the candidates, I think just about everyone in the room asked, “Who?”

So the caucus ended. It was a good experience for me as I found I enjoyed the event even more than I thought I would. But, for anyone wondering, I did not check off attending the state convention nor did I check off being on the town committee.


No comments: