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Caucuses bring out record participants

Staff writer

A record number of people turned out for the local Democratic and Republican caucuses Saturday, handing victories to Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz.

The Marion County Republican caucus brought out 645 voters, county Republican Chair Todd Heitschmidt said.

“The number of people we had well exceeded our expectations from four years ago,” Heitschmidt said. “We’d originally planned for 350.”

Registration of new voters is not permitted at the Republican caucus.

At the Republican caucus, Ted Cruz took the majority of all votes with 363. First runner-up was Donald Trump with 112. Marco Rubio came in third place with 72 votes. John Kasich trailed with 53 votes and Carly Fiorina, who withdrew last month after a poor showing in New Hampshire, garnered one vote.

Heitschmidt said he’s not surprised with the way the votes broke down.

“Kansas had a huge impact for the Cruz campaign,” Heitschmidt said. “It could have gone another way but the Kansas vote matters. I think people were recognizing that and I think they got out and made their votes count.”

Lines at the Marion County Republican Caucus, held in the community center, were as long as out the door and down the sidewalk to Santa Fe Street, Heitschmidt said.

The season of elections is just getting underway, he said.

“Locally we’ve got our city elections coming up here in about four weeks, then the primary in August and general in November,” he said. “We’re just getting warmed up.”

Shelley Dunham, Democratic vice chair of the First Congressional District, said 501 turned out for the 35th Senate District caucus in Galva, while 250-300 were anticipated. The number of caucus participants statewide broke the record set in 2008 when President Obama was elected, Dunham said.

“We had 177 voter registrations, which would include those who were voting for the first time and those who were changing parties,” Dunham said.

Because of the high turnout, everyone had to be patient with the process, but Dunham said she was pleased with the way the caucus went.

“People were very patient for the most part,” she said. “People were amazingly well-behaved.”

At Galva, 329 people voted for Bernie Sanders, electing five delegates, and 172 voted for Hillary Clinton, electing three delegates.

Last modified March 10, 2016

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