Voter turnout greatly exceeded organizers’ expectations Saturday at Marion County’s Republican Presidential Caucus.
Volunteers had set up about 70 chairs in the Marion Community Center, but attendance was high enough they had to get out extra chairs. The eventual vote total was 178.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania won in a landslide locally, as he also went on to win the majority of Kansas’ 40 delegates. Santorum received 93 votes, followed by Newt Gingrich, 41; Mitt Romney, 25; Ron Paul, 14; Jon Huntsman, 2; Herman Cain, 1; and uncommitted, 2. Michele Bachman and Rick Perry were on the ballot but received no votes.
Kansas’ caucuses are in some ways more like a modified primary than a traditional caucus, Marion County Republican Party Chairman Todd Heitschmidt told voters, particularly because it is conducted by secret ballot.
Before voting began, Heitschmidt read letters from Kansas’ congressional delegation, including Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran and Rep. Tim Huelskamp. None of those letters advocated for any of the candidates in the caucus. Voters also heard letters from Romney and Gingrich, arguing for their presidential credentials.
The event was also an opportunity for some local campaigning. Marion City Council candidates Heitschmidt and Dick Varenhorst each briefly told voters from Marion that they would appreciate their votes, and Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft announced he would run for re-election.