Democrats came 'ready to play'

Like the New England Patriots of political parties, the Nevada Democrats came ready to play Saturday.

That's the analogy Sen. Hillary Clinton supporter Jeff Russell made as he basked in the first brief moments after his precinct's caucus cast its vote at the Carson Indian Colony Gym.

Russell was also wearing a Patriots jacket.

"I really do think we just painted Nevada blue today," he said.

Although Hillary narrowly lost out in his precinct to Sen. Barack Obama, Russell's spirits were not dampened and, in fact, his candidate carried the day in Nevada, narrowly edging Obama.

"Look, I'm all for Hillary," he said. "I heard Hillary speak, along with Obama - and I gave the edge to her.

"But I'm excited this year. I'm excited today. I want to take today and keep going. Keep it going."

In contrast to the chaos of the hundreds standing in the cold in front of the Carson City Senior Citizens Center to vote at the Republican caucus, the Democrats seemed to be living the good life, gathering at 11 a.m. in the cozier confines - from the lounge of Western Nevada College's Bristlecone building, to the band room at Carson High School.

That the local Democrats outdid their Republican counterparts by sticking to the prescribed "caucus" format, however, did not come seamlessly.

Some caucus-goers felt their votes for "fringe" candidates had been marginalized, while others said precinct counters did not always come up with accurate numbers during the day's early goings.

But the majority said, in spite of the caucus systems' margin for error, the day went well and the right candidate prevailed.

"I think this is the right way to do things," said Ray Parks, a John Edwards supporter, who cast his caucus vote at WNC and noshed on a chocolate chip cookie courtesy of the Edwards campaign. "I've done a caucus before. There's more to it than just voting. But I think it's a good way to bring people together, to get people talking.

"And this year, people are talking about Nevada. This turnout is simply unbelievable."

Indeed, Hillary Clinton supporter Vicki VanPelt could not help from sharing how "special" she felt to be the third state to vote on the '08 campaign trail as she cast her vote at Carson High.

"This is just so special," VanPelt said. "I think we can thank our Senate majority leader for this. The eyes are on Nevada. No matter who you're voting for today - no matter what side of the spectrum you're on, this caucus here, during this crucial election year, was something truly historic.

"We're watching - participating - in history here."

Volunteer for the Nevada State Democratic Party Peter Hansell whose precinct 409 narrowly voted for Barack Obama to edge out Clinton, said that he was not only pleased with the turnout Saturday (reportedly almost two-thirds of his precinct turned out), but he was also glad the caucus system took hold.

Despite capturing the popular vote, Obama earned more delegates (13) than Clinton (12), according to The Associated Press.

"I know there were some grumblings at the start," he said. "And some people, once their candidate didn't make it past the initial rounds, decided not to align with another more (popular) candidate.

"But that's the point. People came out. People participated. This was a first for Nevada and we couldn't be happier with those who wanted to be counted."

At every Democrat caucus site, there were individual campaign volunteers holding their respective candidate's signs and handing out buttons, lollipops and even posters.

"There's a lot to consider when choosing a candidate," said Renee Woslum, who attended the WNC caucus with husband, Clay. "We're voting for Obama. We believe in the man. Obama sounds like he's shooting from the hip and we like his background."

The Woslums said they were like "many Nevadans" in that they'll consider whomever is running, based on ideas and not necessarily parties.

"We'll vote for who we feel is qualified," Clay said. "I think there are a lot of things going on - especially these last four years - that we need to look at. (Obama) is not a multi-millionaire, for starters.

"We're kind of for integrity at this point."


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