Long lines, parking issues and overflow sites were components of the 2008 Democratic caucuses, but that wasn’t the case this year. Fewer than a hundred people showed up to the Democratic caucuses for Senate and Congressional Districts 2 and 3, held Saturday at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School.
“The difficulty that you have any time there is a sitting president and there’s no opposition to him whatsoever is … draw(ing) up enthusiasm,” said Tony Brown, a delegate for Congressional District 2 and Senate District 3. “The last caucus we had … 1,200 people showed up. People were standing out in the rain to get into the caucus. That was an amazing night. We weren’t going to be able to replicate that, obviously.”
At Saturday’s caucuses, Kansas Democrats selected delegates who had pledged to vote for President Barack Obama at the Democratic District Convention. Because of the scant turnout, many people present automatically became delegates. In some cases, there weren’t enough participants to provide alternates, in case delegates are unable to attend the District Convention on May 5.
No one challenged Obama.
“Clearly there was only one candidate, so you get to hang out and get to know your neighbors,” said Lawrence caucus chairwoman Tess Banion. “It’s fun because people got to talk about issues, and they got to hear from our elected officials.”
State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, made a speech to his district, urging listeners to become more active.
“Make no mistake, if we lose our moderate coalition in the Senate, we are not going to recognize the state of Kansas a couple years from now,” he said. “I need you to make calls, go door to door … you can be a yard-sign captain, be sure my yard signs are staying the yard, and people aren’t ripping them up. … I’m making a plea for your help.”
Brown said now that things are taking shape, with Mitt Romney the predicted Republican presidential nominee, more Democrats will begin to rally for votes.
“A lot of Democrats nationwide have been sitting back watching the Republican primaries and that battle… now that it looks like that’s coming to a close, I think you’re going to see a whole lot more concerted effort on the Democratic side. … Now we start gearing up for President Obama’s run.”