By Sarah Pridgeon
A straw poll taken at the recent bi-annual Crook County Republican caucus came out in favor of Rick Santorum for presidential candidate, with 20 of the 46 votes. Second favorite was Ron Paul, who took 12 votes, followed by Mitt Romney, with eight.
“Ron Paul coming second was an interesting result,” says Ted Davis, Chairman of the Crook County Republican Party. “We had some energetic new voters, including quite a few young people, between around 20 and 30 years old. The discussion was more animated than it has been in recent election cycles. It’s a non-binding straw poll, an expression of people’s current desires.”
Crook County’s was the first of the state’s precinct caucuses, scheduled by county through to the end of February. Each precinct elects a committee man or woman to represent them.
A broad spectrum of resolutions and platforms were put forward at the caucus, says Davis, including concerns about the size and scope of the Federal deficit and support for the Keystone pipeline using eastern Wyoming as an alternative route, should the currently proposed route through North and South Dakota not prove possible.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome was a strong show of opposition to Davis’s resolution to support the development of rare earth mining. The opposition came from Precinct 2/2, located just outside Sundance city limits.
“It didn’t pass because there were concerns, again among the younger people, that it would endanger the long-term agricultural values of the site, such as groundwater and grazing lease activity,” Davis explains.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obama Care,” was almost unanimously opposed, Davis continues. “There was also concern about the vast amount of money being spent and lives lost in the Middle East, especially among the Ron Paul supporters, some of whom I think have just come off active duty and are opposed to military action. Longer-term supporters didn’t see that any adjustments were necessary to the current platforms and supported military action in terms of self-defense.”
“There was also a lot of talk about preserving individual liberties, some of which wasn’t formalized into resolutions,” Davis goes on. “There was discussion about the Second Amendment, the right to buy or not buy health care – basically, of protecting individual rights and responsibilities.”
“We had a lot of different voices at this caucus, all with a great deal of passion for their perspectives,” says Davis. “There was a lot of good political dialogue, but people were very respectful and congenial. Everyone was adamant but well-spoken.”
“We also had an incident that made this precinct caucus a tad unique,” he adds. While, at previous conventions, the results of the straw poll have been announced at the caucus, a decision was made by the State Central Committee in November not to do so. This change, however, was not made to the guidelines published on the Internet.
“It created a bit of a tangle,” says Davis. “The State Party Chairman told us to default to the guidelines and announce the results so as not to conflict with the information out there for the public – it’s good we caught it.”
“I’m very grateful to everyone who came. Being involved at the precinct level can carry all the way up to State and into law, with time,” Davis concludes. “We had a lot of people turn up who are concerned about the current political situation and were ready and willing to discuss it – sometimes with surprising results. It was a good day.”