Eye On Boise

Idaho GOP poised for busy night of caucuses

Voting in the Idaho Republican presidential caucus has started in some parts of Idaho, including the first round in Canyon County and other small southern Idaho counties, reports AP reporter John Miller; click below for his full report. In Ada County, organizers closed the doors of Taco Bell Arena about 30 minutes after the 7 p.m. deadline to make sure hundreds still waiting in lines could get inside and cast their secret ballots, Miller reported; "If you're in line by 7, you'll get in," GOP official Rod Beck said.

For the first time in decades, Idaho will have a chance to influence a Republican presidential campaign. The Idaho Republican Party has organized caucuses in all 44 counties; current crowd estimates are 4,500 in Bonneville County, and 2,500 in Twin Falls County, according to the Associated Press, and 9,050 in Ada County, according to the Boise Police Department.

Idaho GOP poised for busy night of caucuses
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Voting in the Idaho Republican presidential caucus has started in some parts of Idaho, including the first round in Canyon County and other small southern Idaho counties.

In Ada County, organizers closed the doors of Taco Bell Arena about 30 minutes after the 7 p.m. deadline to make sure hundreds still waiting in lines could get inside and cast their secret ballots. GOP officials estimate more than 8,500 people are taking part in the Idaho GOP's first-ever presidential caucus.

"If you're in line by 7, you'll get in," GOP official Rod Beck said.

For the first time in decades, Idaho will have a chance to influence a Republican presidential campaign. The Idaho Republican Party has organized caucuses in all 44 counties.

The Ada County caucus began with short speeches from supporters of all four GOP contenders. Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, was on hand to sing the National Anthem in a duet with a local high school student.

Boise resident Francoise Teal said she is swinging her support for Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who has gained momentum in recent weeks and made several stops in Idaho last month.

"This is a guy I'm really hoping and praying for," Teal said.

Idaho, even with its rich Republican tradition and 32 delegates, has traditionally been an afterthought to candidates vying for the presidential nomination. But GOP officials changed the state's schedule last year, opting instead to swap out a May primary for a caucus on March 6, putting Idaho in the same group as nine other states with Super Tuesday balloting.

In more heavily populated counties like Ada, Canyon and Kootenai, GOP organizers are prepared to handle large crowds, with caucusing planned in sports arenas. In smaller, more rural counties, organizers are opting for small venues, such as schools or community centers or unusual places like Jerry's Country Store in Stanley. Several of the state's big, rural counties holding caucuses in multiple locations to avoid long, burdensome commutes. All caucuses were scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Caucus participants should also be well educated on the candidates by now.

In the past three weeks, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul joined Santorum in making campaign stops in the state. Paul, hoping to make Idaho his first state win, toured the state Monday, with stops in Moscow, Sandpoint and Idaho Falls. He's expected to rally supporters Tuesday in Nampa.

Alaska, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia also hold nominating contests Tuesday.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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