Washington Caucuses
6:41 am
Mon March 5, 2012

GOP Caucuses Are Finished, But the Voting Is Not Over

OLYMPIA -- Record numbers of Republicans in Washington turned out to select delegates and cast votes in a non-binding presidential straw poll this weekend. Mitt Romney was the clear winner, followed by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. But it will be months before the campaigns know exactly how many delegates they can count on from Washington State. Deborah Wang has this look ahead.

The presidential straw poll is non-binding. It doesn’t really count in any direct way. What matters more are the delegates that were elected at the precinct caucuses. They support specific candidates, but they aren’t bound to them.

Because of that, it’s impossible to know how many delegates each campaign will end up with. But state party chair Kirby Wilbur says the straw poll numbers provide a clue.

Wilbur: “So I think it’s fair to say if you do well in the caucus count, you’re going to do well in the delegate count. Not necessarily true, no guarantee, but I think it’s likely.”

And there’s no guarantee because there is a long way to go before the Republican National Convention in August, when the party will finally choose its nominee.

The delegates who were elected at this weekend’s precinct caucuses will go on to either local or county conventions, where the field of delegates will be narrowed. Then at the Washington state convention at the end of May, the final 43 delegates will be chosen, and only then will they be committed to a particular candidate.

Dino Rossi is the state co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign. He says the campaign will be reaching out to Romney delegates in the coming weeks. And he says if other candidates drop out of the race, he will be calling their delegates as well.

Rossi: “They would certainly be free game and you can try to woo them to your side.”

Wang: “How do you do that, I mean, what’s…?”

Dino Rossi: “Give ‘em a call and talk to them. You know, where are you leaning? And find out what the objections might be or not be, and kind of go from there.”

Party Chair Kirby Wilbur says he wouldn’t be surprised if the candidates come back to Washington State, just to make sure their supporters stay loyal.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network