2008 Clintonistas Ready For Their Date With the Washington Caucus
posted by January 19 at 17:30 PMon
Posted by Ryan S. Jackson
“It’s been a great day, but this contest is going to be decided state by state by state… what happens in the Washington caucus is going to count.”
King County Executive Ron Sims was speaking before a group of roughly 35 Hillary Clinton supporters who had turned out for this afternoon’s caucus training, held in a Machinists Union hall in the deepest regions of the South Park neighborhood. Those in attendance might have been getting over the fact that repairs to the South Park bridge had led to a twisting detour through south Seattle before arriving, but the room seemed drained of some of the energy you would expect from a group of people whose candidate had just won a hard-fought victory in Nevada.
Sims told me before going on that his wife had been in Nevada this morning organizing voters for Clinton, and that many of union voters had “utterly rebelled against the culinary union—they were tired of being told by anyone what to do.” The Culinary Union is the most prominent in Nevada and its endorsement of Obama was a major flashpoint in the caucus; it was interesting to hear a local politician get drawn into the national campaign narrative.
Jim Kainber, the buoyant high-level Washington organizer for Clinton, went on after Sims and took the group through the paces of the caucus process. Other speakers included powerful State Senator Margarita Prentice of Washington’s 11th District, who tailored her remarks to the now-familiar Clinton coalition of older voters and women voters. They responded to the question of, “How many of you have caucused before?” with a room full of raised hands.
The large group eventually broke up into “mock caucuses” by district; I decided to sit in on the 43rd, hoping to see the master strategy that would turn Capitol Hill into a Hillary Clinton bastion. The district Clinton co-chair seemed to be intent on having his district respond to some of the arguments that led to Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa: One of the group’s three young-ish voters made a remark about emphasizing Obama’s “present” votes in the Illinois senate, which was cut-off with a clipped, “I would stay away from anything that would appear negative.”
The co-chair also emphasized Obama’s success in asking voters to make him their caucus second choice, and encouraged Hillary’s caucus trainees to always be politely engaging about something they admire about Hillary rather than something they don’t about Obama. Given the youth demographics of the 43rd District, this seemed like a pretty sound strategy.
Before I left, I asked Jim Kainber whether there are official plans to match the Obama campaign’s decision to open an official Washington State office. He said he doesn’t think it will happen until after the caucus, and that the Clinton campaign is placing faith in aggressive phone banking with volunteers.
“The office is more of a psychological thing,” Kainber told me.