February 29, 2012 in City

State caucuses to set tone for Super Tuesday vote

By The Spokesman-Review
 
If you go

Washington holds its Republican caucuses starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. Those who participate must declare that they are Republicans. There is no presidential primary in the state this year, making the caucuses the only chance for Washingtonians to pick a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. There’s a separate caucus for each voting precinct. Voters can find out where they can participate at spokanegop.com.

With the primaries in Arizona and Michigan history, the focus on the race to capture the Republican presidential nomination turns to Washington, and its position could be crucial.

That’s because it’s the final chance for candidates to get momentum before the all-important Super Tuesday showdown in 10 states, including Idaho, on Tuesday.

Two Republican presidential candidates who already held events in the Inland Northwest this month are headed back, Spokane County GOP Chairman Matthew Pederson announced on Tuesday.

“It really accentuates the Washington state caucuses,” Pederson said.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, will hold a rally at 3 p.m. Thursday at New Life Assembly Church, 10920 E. Sprague Ave., and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas will make his second local appearance this campaign season at the Spokane Convention Center. Paul, who won the most votes in Spokane County GOP caucuses in 2008, is holding his rally at noon Friday.

New Life Assembly Church has seating for about 800, and there’s some overflow room, said Steve Williams, lead pastor.

Williams, a Republican precinct committee officer who is undecided in the race, said Santorum’s campaign asked to use the church earlier this week.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come and see these guys firsthand and get the measure of them,” Williams said. “It’s great for all of Spokane.”

Santorum spoke earlier this month in Coeur d’Alene but has since focused largely on Michigan, where he had hoped to pull off an upset of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney but instead finished a close second.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who finished fourth in Michigan, spoke in Spokane last week.

Romney, the front-runner, is the only candidate who hasn’t campaigned in the Inland Northwest, though his son, Josh Romney, spoke to supporters in Spokane Valley last week.

Leigh Adelmann, a Romney campaign coordinator from Arizona who is helping to lead Romney’s organizing effort in Spokane, said he’s still hoping Romney fits in an Eastern Washington appearance before the caucuses. But first, he said, Romney is scheduled to make stops in Ohio, an important Super Tuesday battleground.

“He’s certainly divided on many fronts,” Adelmann said.

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