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GOP readies for caucus

Islanders will gather March 9 at the Commons.

Whenever Republicans are concerned that their tax bills are growing, but the money is not being well spent, Shirley Brown’s phone rings.

As chair of the Kitsap County Republican Party, Brown sees the upcoming Republican caucus as a chance for people to put their concerns to work.

“I’m hoping people will come to the caucus and put their stamp of approval or recommendations on our party platform,” Brown said. “The grassroots tell us as leaders where (people) want to be.”

The Washington State Republican Party caucuses will take place at 7:15 p.m. March 9. Participants will elect delegates to attend the county convention and vote for their Republican presidential nominee of choice, and will help build the party platform.

While President George W. Bush is uncontested for the Republican presidential nomination, Brown says Bush still has to go through the process of earning delegates, which is rather different from the Democratic caucus process.

Upon signing in, voters will write down their preferred candidate and receive a questionnaire asking multiple-choice questions about which statements they agree with for each platform issue.

“The questionnaire forces people to think about the issues and think, ‘What are my thoughts about this issue?’” Brown said. “It gives them a basis for agreeing or disagreeing on each issue.”

Through discussions within each precinct, the views of each member become clear – so when it comes to selecting delegates, each person can vote for a delegate whose platform and candidate preferences most closely aligns with their own.

By contrast, the Democratic caucus had a 15 percent requirement for a candidate to earn a delegate to go on to the county convention, and platform work was done more informally.

Bainbridge Island will send 74 delegates to the Kitsap County GOP convention on April 17, which in turn will send 55 delegates to the state convention on May 27.

Washington state will send 41 delegates to the Republican national convention in New York City on Aug. 30.

Brown said a lot of interest has been generated by the media this year, but also “tremendous confusion” because the Democratic caucuses were held a month earlier than the traditional second Tuesday in March.

Frances McCrea, longtime Republican and committee officer for Island Center precinct No 320, hopes that even though the Republican nomination is uncontested, people will still show up to elect delegates or to serve as delegates themselves.

Any resident in a given precinct may attend, as long as they pledge not to attend any other party’s caucus for a year, and that they will be a registered voter by November.

“(The caucus) is a good chance to connect with other Republicans and your neighbors, as it’s harder to connect with Republicans (on Bainbridge Island, which tends to vote Democratic),” McCrea said.

Among issues this year, Brown said, “‘No more taxes’ is a huge issue to the whole country. People feel that the number of people in the tax base is lessening, but the amount of taxes is getting greater.”

Brown points to the increased valuation of homes in Kitsap, which she said has caused property owners’ tax bills to “skyrocket” and which she attributed to the mandates of the Growth Management Act.

Another concern Brown has heard from party members is that local and county government is taking money and not applying it to core functions like law enforcement and road safety, but instead spending it buying open space.

“Thank God for the people who do care and participate,” she said.

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Elephant walk

The caucuses for all Bainbridge Island precincts will be at the Bainbridge Island Commons at 7:15 p.m. March 9, and are expected to last for no more than 90 minutes. The party platform can be found at http://www.kitsaprepublicans.org.

For more information, contact Shirley Brown at

(360) 377-3360 or email shirleyjbrown@comcast.net.

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