Presidential Candidates

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There was an event in Tennessee today for GOP candidates for President. One pundit on MSNBC said something to the effect of, the Republicans don't like that there is no front-runner. Said pundit is on crack.

This is great. There are lots of good choices, and the Republicans at large love that there are choices, and that their voices have a chance of mattering two years from now, when we go to our primaries and caucuses.

I just attended the precinct caucuses. They were held statewide in Washington on March 7. The location we went to was for a joint caucus for 42 different precincts, each representing hundreds of voters, most of whom vote Republican more often than Democrat. Any voter who chooses to identify himself with the Republican party may attend the caucus, but only six people attended, five of whom are PCOs, and one of whom was a spouse. Why so few?

There are, of course, several significant reasons, including lack of public knowledge. But the biggest reason, and the reason most of the others relates to, is the fact that there's no really good reason for most people to go.

There are only two big races for our precincts: U.S. Senate and the Second Congressional District (the fightin' second!). And for those two races, the state and county GOP have already (either in fact, or close enough to it) endorsed their candidates: Safeco CEO Mike McGavick (former chief of staff of popular former Senator Slade Gorton) and U.S. Navy Captain Doug Roulstone (former commander of the USS John C. Stennis).

The only other reason to go is to vote on the party platform, which most people don't care about.

But in two years, if there is no clear frontrunner, it will be a completely different story. We will have scores of people show up to case their lots for John McCain, George Allen, Mitt Romney, and so on. And don't think for a moment we won't enjoy it, or that we won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.

For the curious, the precise mechanics for how this works in Washington is that at the precinct caucus, voters in each precinct elect delegates to the county convention and district caucus. All Precinct Committee Officers (of which I am one, elected in the primary in 2004, 110-1) in attendance are automatic delegates. Then, at the caucus of the legislative districts (of which I am the chair, for the 39th District), the delegates elect delegates to the state convention. And at the state convention, delegates are elected to the national convention.

In 2004, I narrowly missed being elected as an alternate to the national convention, even though no one knew me. As district chair, I am likely to be elected as a delegate to the national convention in 2008, where I will get a vote for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, where -- if there is still no clear frontrunner -- my voice, my vote, will actually be of great significance.

And I don't like this? This is great stuff! Who are they kidding?

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