GOP caucuses draw crowds

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Republican caucuses in Barry and Lawrence counties held last week drew large numbers and selected delegates for Seventh District and state conventions in different ways. Both caucuses ran for around three hours.

"It was very interesting," said Barbara White, chairperson of the Barry County Republican Party. "There were a lot of people we didn't know."

The caucus, held on March 13 at the Crowder College campus in Cassville, attracted 268 voters. White said 50 is typical in selecting delegates for U.S. president. Six people tallied the votes as 14 delegates and 14 alternates were picked for each of the subsequent meetings.

"It was overwhelming," said White, who served as caucus secretary. She praised the work of Richard Asbill, who served as parliamentarian through the proceedings.

Separate slates of candidates were presented by groups calling themselves the Barry County Republicans and the Tea Party. White said the Barry County Republicans had the most votes and their slate was accepted.

None of the Barry County delegates committed to specific candidates, White said.

David Cole, of Cassville, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, served as preliminary chairman to run the meeting. Cole was subsequently elected the caucus chairman.

The elected delegates will next meet at the Seventh District convention, which will be held on Saturday, April 21, at the National Guard Armory in Pierce City. The state convention will be held June 1 and June 2 at the Expo Center on the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield.

The Lawrence County caucus attracted 224 people in Mt. Vernon, around double the number expected.

"It went reasonably well," said Jim Young, who served as caucus secretary. "With that many people, you're always going to have someone who doesn't agree with what's going on. The important thing that came out of this meeting is everybody worked together. There was no animosity."

Young said the delegates represented three political groups for candidates Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Dane Roaseau, who serves as the Republican Central Committee chairman, started the meeting and was elected as caucus chairman.

After committees were selected, Roaseau presented a preliminary list of candidates, which was withdrawn at the recommendation of the rules committee. A straw poll was subsequently taken of those present supporting specific candidates.

Young said 85 backed Santorum, 59 supported Romney, 49 were for Paul and five backed Newt Gingrich.

The caucus decided to proportion its 17 delegates and 17 alternates for the two subsequent meetings based on the supporters present. Eight delegates were committed to Santorum, six to Romney and three to Paul.

Young said each group picked their own delegates, some choosing different people to go to the Seventh District and state conventions. They submitted names to Roaseau to send to the Republican State Committee for convention certification. Delegate names were not filed with the caucus secretary.

"The majority had the right to say what they wanted to say," Young said. "That may not be the best way. We'd like to have an election where all the Republicans in the county could vote. We thought this was a fair way to run the caucus."

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