February 7, 2008

NEWS: Kansas' Super Tuesday

'Barack gets 11'
Kansas' Super Tuesday Smackdown
Bobby Schmuck, Mill Valley High School alumni and organizer for the Obama campaign, announces the delegate count. photo-Kevin Anderson, Shawnee Dispatch

By Miguel M. Morales

"How could you not know who you're going to vote for?" a small boy asked his mother as they stood in line at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kan., on Super Tuesday.

Earlier when the boy awed that it must cost a lot of money to vote, she used the time standing in line to educate him on the intricacies of U.S. democracy. She explained how it takes money to run for office but not to vote.

"Voting is free," she explained.

But when it came to answering his question about who she would vote for, she looked up and smiled at everyone who was transfixed on their private yet public conversation.

While his was the question of the night, Kansas democrats answered it with a resounding 73 percent for Obama.

Paula Sayles, former JCCC student, stood as one of four who caucused for Edwards. Despite allegiance to Edwards, organizers designated Sayles' group and others individuals as "undecided."

Fifteen participants out of more than 1,500 declined to support Obama or Clinton during the initial caucus count. When organizers officially dubbed the group not viable, only four chose not to align with any group -- Sayles and her fellow Edwards supporters.

Sayles said even though other Edward's supporters flocked to support Obama and, to a lesser extent, Clinton, she would stand by her candidate during the caucus.

Confusion about the caucus system and disorganization at Mill Valley caused several attendees to leave after the first count. Organizers incorrectly told participants they could leave before a second count could be administered.

Logistics also played a major role in the chaos. Organizers scheduled the caucus for the school's theater that only holds 350 yet more than 1,500 people attended. The school previously scheduled a basketball game that evening making parking, meeting and caucusing difficult. Supporters met in hallways, classrooms and, when the basketball game concluded, the gym.

By the end of the night, in Kansas Congressional District 3 - State Senate District 10, Obama won 11 delegates to Clinton's four.

'Barack gets 11'

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Kansas broke down with Obama winning 23 delegates and Clinton 9.