A first-timer reflects on Washington’s Democratic caucus

Amarinthia Torres speaks at the Democratic caucus at Lowell Elementary School in Seattle on Saturday (Photo by Sharayah Lane.)
Amarinthia Torres speaks at the Democratic caucus at Lowell Elementary School in Seattle on Saturday (Photo by Sharayah Lane.)

It was a beautiful morning in Seattle for a caucus. Hundreds of people came out to Lowell Elementary School to have their voices heard about which Democratic candidate they believe should be the next president of the United States — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. My social media feed has been blowing up with politics from people who I’ve never heard talk politics. They now were promising to show up at their caucuses and encouraging others to do the same.

My caucus location was not hard to spot. You could find it by following the line of people that stretched down the block and wrapped around the corner. People were advised to arrive early due to expected record-breaking turnouts at this year’s Democratic caucuses.

It also wasn’t hard to determine most people’s political candidate preferences. Many people had signs, stickers and attire to represent their candidate.

At first glance the caucus was overwhelmingly Sanders supporters but Clinton supporters came out in high numbers as well. But Sanders ended up overwhelming winning the Washington state caucus on Saturday, with 73 percent of Democratic caucus-goers backing the Vermont senator.

One Hillary supporter at Lowell broke the morning silence yelling, “Stand out for Hillary! What’s wrong are you too scared?” A Bernie supporter was walking by with a roll of “women for Bernie” stickers, also encouraging the men to wear them proudly.

Most people raised their hands when asked if it were their first caucusIt was a diverse group at the 43rd District caucus site. Attendees ranged in age, race, sexual orientation, and caucus experience.

Several people looked lost in the crowded rooms. Some smelled of stale alcohol, breaking their hangover to come out and support their candidate.

Many of the caucus veterans were visibly astonished by the large turnout and the different demographics being represented. People were herded around in search of their precincts and proper paperwork.

A woman at Lowell Elementary School holds up a sign for voters in precinct 2016 Saturday during the Washington State Democratic Caucus. (Photo by Sharayah Lane.)
A woman at Lowell Elementary School holds up a sign for voters in precinct 2016 Saturday during the Washington State Democratic Caucus. (Photo by Sharayah Lane.)

The official caucus started more than 30 minutes late due to the large crowd, which ended up breaking fire code multiple times. Different precincts were moved to different locations at the school as the first room became filled shoulder to shoulder. Attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance, the moderators read the rules and the caucus began. Each group agreed on two tally takers, one from the Sanders camp and one from the Clinton camp, and one secretary to keep notes on everything. The votes rolled in and the group looked on closely watching the tally takers ensuring that they did not miss or miscount any votes.

Sanders was clearly in the lead as both sides of supporters came together to begin the comment section of the caucus.

Clinton supporters shared a range of reasons that they support the potential first woman president.

“Her international reputation and prowess is something that I really value. And while I will admit that she is a little bit hawkish for me, but she is somebody that is much more well-rounded than any of the other candidates that are running, including Bernie,” said Seattle resident Veronica Smith. “We’ve got a woman who really is the most qualified candidate to be president and I think that it’s time for us to make that happen.”

On the other side of the debate supporters spoke out for Sanders’ history and character.

“I would encourage everyone to think not about who has been waiting longer for this opportunity but who can carry our highest ideals forward and represent people like us, who is funded by people like us,” said attendee Gregory Heller. “His answers to questions have consistently been clear, honest and complete and I think that you’ll find that these questions of character, of consistency, and of records, that that candidate is actually Bernie Sanders.”

The commenting portion of precinct 2016 ended with one person being persuaded to change their preferred candidate from Clinton to Sanders.

Political veteran Mayor Ed Murray, who lives and has represented the Legislative district, was also in attendance and praised everyone in attendance for coming out and having their voices heard. He said District 43 has led the way for Washington state’s progressive agenda, and he encouraged all Democrats to stand together in the general election in November.

“I just encourage everyone to have fun today and to let’s go defeat the Republicans tomorrow,” Murray said.

1 Comment

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