Idaho Politics: Idaho Dems Caucus for Bernie, Hillary

by Judy Ferro

Did you hear that Idaho Democrats had a caucus last week?

LOL?

The event not only got a front page mentions in the Idaho Press-Tribune and coverage from local TV stations, but several mentions on CNN. Favorable coverage for Idaho on national TV—gotta love it!

Overnight the jokes about Democrats meeting in a phone booth were replaced by complaints that planners were daft to think our most enthusiastic could fit in two middle school gyms. Those who attended will remember the blocks-long line and sitting elbow to elbow with hundreds of people who want leaders who will fight for the middle class.

So many contributed to the caucus—volunteers who were veterans of the 2008 event and those who prepped for their first caucus and those who stepped forward Tuesday night when they saw a need; volunteers who led sub-caucuses, spoke out for their candidates, and championed issues important to them; volunteers who acted as emcees, played in the band, helped set-up tables and made signs, and directed the foot traffic.

Thank you to all who came and waited and cheered and voted and cheered some more.

Thank you all for keeping the chaos organized and the spirit alive.

Thanks to all who came and waited and cheered and voted and cheered some more.

And special thanks to those who ran as delegates to the state convention and to the ballot counters who worked diligently until 1:30 a.m.

The outcome was a surprise to many: 83% for Bernie Sanders and 17% for Hillary Clinton. Statewide the numbers were 78% and 21%. Only Sanders’ home state of Vermont has given him a higher percent.

Canyon County will be sending 28 delegates pledged to Bernie and six pledged to Hilary to the state convention. They will join Democrats from around the state to select 17 delegates pledged to Bernie and give to Hillary to represent us at the national convention.

Idaho has four super delegates. One had announced for Hillary prior to the caucuses. Two, including party chair Bert Marley, announced for Bernie soon after. On Thursday, one remained uncommitted.

This year’s presidential caucuses may be the last for Idaho Democrats. Many–especially veterans of Ada County’s largest-caucus-in-the-nation–are pushing for us to join Republicans in holding a primary. There is another option—Democrats could caucus by legislative district or county, whichever is smaller. It would be a serious undertaking. For Canyon County, it would not only mean renting four venues but also prepping four emcees and eight or more sub-caucus leaders.

A month ago, I would have fought for that option. Now I’ve talked to dozens of Democrats who could not physically attend the caucus. Caucusing involves speeches, discussion, and not just one, but a series, of ballots. Idaho’s rules have been that one must participate for his or her vote to count.

I have friends who gave up vacation plans or a day’s wages to attend; others drove 15 miles to get to the only caucusing site in the county. Some chose not to make those sacrifices. But maybe it’s okay for the enthusiastic to have a greater say than others.

But I’ve also heard from Democrats who are blind, suffering from cancer, or recovering from an operation. I’ve talked with elderly who don’t drive at night as well as working parents who only see their kids in the evening. They need absentee ballots.

Very likely, the presidential caucus of 2016 will be the last for Idaho Democrats.

It’s great that so many share the memory of this crazy, heartwarming event.

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