Dole, Buchanan Backers Both Claim Win Caucus Victor Not Official Yet; Focus Now On March 26 Primary
From For the record (Friday, March 8, 1996): Only persons elected at precinct caucuses and precinct committee officers in office by mid-January may be delegates to Republican county conventions. A Thursday story indicated otherwise.
Bob Dole’s Washington state campaign says the precinct caucuses provided him with a clean sweep of Tuesday’s election events.
“We’re declaring victory,” Lance Henderson, state coordinator for the Kansas senator, said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re really ecstatic about this.”
Pat Buchanan’s camp says it expects to be the eventual Washington winner - if there are no dirty tricks in sending delegates to the next round of political meetings.
“The only figures we have are from caucuses where our people were there,” said Wynn Schaub, a state coordinator for Buchanan. Based on those reports, “we figure we won.”
The general public may have to wait three weeks to find out who’s right. The state Republican Party, which is the final tabulator of such figures, said it may not release data before March 25 because of expected delays in sending reports to its headquarters.
Based on incomplete reports by the Associated Press and checks with GOP leaders in each of Washington’s 39 counties, Henderson said Dole is likely to have the support of about 43 percent of the Republicans who attended the Tuesday caucuses.
Conservative commentator Buchanan should finish second, with 28 percent, followed by publisher Steve Forbes with 17 percent, according to the Dole campaign’s estimates. Former United Nations Ambassador Alan Keyes should finish fourth, with about 8 percent, followed by former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander with about 2 percent.
In some counties, the estimates reflect the results of a straw poll that each caucus attendee filled out. In others, they reflect sheets that caucus goers signed when they arrived at the meeting and were asked which presidential candidate they support. In other cases, they reflect the candidates’ support among delegates elected at the caucus to attend the next round of meetings, the county conventions.
Henderson, however, considers the estimates conservative. “We think these numbers will hold up,” he said.
Because the caucuses were poorly attended in many precincts, delegates can still be appointed to attend the convention. Schaub said he is worried party officials will try to pack those appointees with Dole supporters.
Both campaigns intend to focus their attention now on the March 26 primary, which will apportion half the state’s 36 presidential delegates. Those numbers will be tabulated by county election officials, and will be available that night.
“We’re going to keep plugging,” Schaub said. “Let’s let the folks vote.”