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February 5, 2008

Caucus Live Blog

This turned into a more complicated evening than I first thought. The initial clue was when it took me five minutes to find a parking space. The turnout for the Republican caucus is so large, we had to park illegally in order to get into the event. Hundreds of cars had already filled the lot, and it looked like hundreds more were waiting to come into the lot.

Our district had the honor of Governor Tim Pawlenty's presence. He gave a good speech to start the event, which was already in progress when we got to the gymnasium at the middle school where the caucus is being held. He cautioned everyone to give the representatives of the various candidates a fair hearing, warning that Minnesota Republicans "can't afford to throw anyone overboard ... It's not exactly a hotbed of Republicanism." You could have fooled me with the turnout.

Reverse chronological live-blogging follows ....

9:54 - Back home. I tried my best, but they still elected me as a delegate to the district convention. Actually, I'm really looking forward to it -- the only part of tonight I found tedious was the platform debate. Maybe the best part of the night was seeing all of my neighbors and finding the strength in numbers we have in our community. That was worth the price of admission alone.

9:18 - Finally got a chance to meet my former state rep Tim, Wilkins. I blogged about him in 2006, and he lost his seat in the Democratic deluge here. He was a good rep and is a fine man, and he's still working in the trenches for the GOP.

9:11 - My battery is about to run out, but I'll let you know if I won when I get home if I run out of juice before then.

9:09 - I had to give a speech ... that was, er, fun.

8:57 - And my friend just nominated me to be a delegate to the district convention.

8:49 - Let me tell you, I'm even less convinced of the efficacy of caucuses. Not only are the results not binding, but the debate over the platform is at best tiresome and occasionally insipid. This is nothing better or worse than a standard volunteer organization meeting, but I'm just getting tired. Thankfully, we're finally finishing that agenda item, and moving to electing delegates.

8:39 - CNN has Romney and Huckabee tied at 30% in MN with 3% of precincts reporting. John McCain trails with 22%. Interesting ....

8:32 - Red meat alert! Now we have a proposal to eliminate both the federal and state departments of education, returning power to the school districts. A teacher is objecting to it, but another thinks it's a pretty good idea. .... Now they've removed the part about the state department, so it just applies to the federal DoE.

8:28 - Now we're debating an amendment to oppose any legislation that mandates global-warming solutions. This is more or less a slap at the Governor, who supports McCain's efforts in this regard .... It failed.

8:23 - A candidate for state rep is visiting the precinct caucus. I'm guessing we'll see a couple more of these during the evening.

8:19 - I spoke out against it. Term limits didn't help California, and I think it actually amplifies lobbyist influence, based on that experience. I can assure you that I lost badly on that issue.

8:14 - We have a motion to add term limits to the Senate and House to four terms for House and two terms in the Senate. Friendly amendments to state that the terms shall not exceed 12 total years in either chamber.

8:13 - Romney wins this precinct by a good margin:

Huckabee - 9
Keyes - 0
Paul - 8
John McCain - 17
Romney - 32

8:09 - Now we're going to debate the platform, and we don't have a copy. I'm going to find it on line, and I'm the only one with that option.

8:07 - We ran out of pre-printed ballots, so many of us had to write in our choice. It's a huge turnout here.

8:06 - Cast my ballot for Mitt Romney. We're collecting them now.

8:02 - First thing we're doing is the presidential preference straw poll. This is not binding; it will be taken into consideration by the delegates elected in this process. We use a secret ballot in Minnesota GOP caucuses.

7:56 - Well, not so long. Only one person wanted to be the secretary, so she won quickly. The rules got read, and someone got suckered into being the precinct chair. The nomination came from our former state representative, Tim Wilkins, a good guy who got caught up in a bad year for Republicans in 2006.

7:55 - We start off with the Pledge of Allegiance, and now we'll start with district officers. This should take a while ...

7:50 - It's a good thing we left the gym early. The room for the district caucus is overflowing. Our son's in-laws live in the same district, so we get to have some company.


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