Whatcom View: Whatcom caucuses start GOP delegate process

Representatives from Precinct 147 vote to elect a secretary in 2008 during a Whatcom Country Republican Party Caucus at the Bloedel Donovan Community Building
Representatives from Precinct 147 vote to elect a secretary in 2008 during a Whatcom Country Republican Party Caucus at the Bloedel Donovan Community Building The Bellingham Herald

This year’s presidential election has been unusually interesting and exciting. Many people want to become more involved in the process but don’t know exactly how to go about it.

You have a chance to participate in the race for the White House on Saturday, Feb. 20 when the Whatcom County Republican Party will hold a local caucus. You are invited to attend and share your Republican beliefs and opinions and take part in the 2016 presidential nomination.

What is the local Republican Party caucus?

On Saturday, Feb. 20, local Republicans will gather between 10 a.m. and noon (get there early doors open at 9 a.m.) to become part of the multistep nominating process for president of the United States. The event begins the procedure for selecting delegates to attend this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

It will take a total of 1,237 delegates this year for a candidate to win the Republican presidential nomination.

The unofficial delegate count following the New Hampshire Primary and the Iowa Caucus have Donald Trump with 17 , Ted Cruz with 10, Marco Rubio with 7, Kasich with 4 and Jeb Bush with 3.

Who can attend a local precinct caucus?

Any registered voter in Whatcom County who has an ID and who will sign a pledge not to attend any other party caucus during 2016 can become part of the caucus.

What are the steps in Washington State for the presidential election?

The Washington State Republican Primary will be held on May 24. All registered voters will be able to cast their ballots in favor of one of the presidential candidates, with Republican delegates awarded on a proportional basis. For example, if “Candidate A” receives 40 percent of the vote he will be awarded 40 percent of the total delegates. If “Candidate B” wins 30 percent of the vote he will receive 30 percent of the delegates, etc.

But how are people chosen to be the delegates to the Republican National Convention? The process in Washington consists of several steps prior to the primary.

It starts on Feb. 20, when over 300 delegates will be elected in our local precinct caucuses. Those delegates and alternates will move on to the Republican County Convention to be held on April 9. After voting at the county level, 47 people will be elected to attend the GOP State Convention in Pasco May 19-21.

This year Washington state will send a total of 44 delegates to the national convention. Those picked will be elected at the GOP State Convention and go to Cleveland based on the outcome of the presidential primary on May 24.

What happens in a local caucus?

At most locations attendees will discuss issues, take surveys and give and receive information on the candidates. They will then split into their precinct caucuses to elect delegates and alternates to the county convention.

How exactly does that work?

Each delegate-candidate gets time to express their political viewpoints and philosophies and explain why they would make a good representative. This is followed by a vote.

What are the locations for the local precinct caucuses?

To make things easier this year we have a new pre-registration system. It allows you to find your caucus location and it will allow check-in to move much faster meaning more time for our main business. You can go to /wsrp.org/caucus to find your location or pre-register. If you have trouble registering call the Whatcom Republican office at 360-734-5215 for help.

This is an opportunity to be part of the “Great American Experiment.” We hope to see you there.

Charlie Crabtree is chairman of the Whatcom County Republican Party.

Coming up

A column by Natalie McClendon on the Democratic precinct caucuses, which will be held Saturday, March 26.