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It’s caucus time for Republicans

By Walt Braun

Susan B. Anthony Middle School is just a couple of miles from Aggieville, but on Saturday it will be a world away from the Green Break being celebrated in the business and entertainment district. And in contrast to Fake Patty’s Day green, the pertinent color in the middle school will be Republican red for the Riley County GOP presidential caucus.

Barb Van Slyke, chair of the Riley County Republican Party, could hardly have been more hospitable in a letter to the editor Tuesday, inviting voters who have been registered Republicans since before Feb. 17 to the event.

As she said, “It’s fast, fun and free,” even adding, “electioneering is encouraged.”

There will be refreshments, courtesy of the Riley County Republican Women, and even a raffle, but there also will be business to conduct. Riley County’s caucus, in conjunction with caucuses in counties statewide, will determine the distribution of most of the state’s 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Most of those — 25 — will be apportioned according to the candidates’ percentages of the statewide caucus. Another 12 — three per congressional district — will go to the winners of the respective districts. The final three will go to Kansans on the Republican National Committee.

Participants will hear pitches from representatives of the four remaining contenders for the party’s nomination — Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum — and then vote.

The whole thing can be over fairly quickly for folks in a hurry. But such occasions also are good opportunities to visit with friends or local GOP officials, talk politics or sports or even to speculate on whether our early spring will be ambushed by a nasty cold spell or a heavy snowfall.

Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the caucus begins at 10; participants will need a photo ID. Candidates’ representatives will take the floor in succession shortly after 10. County Republicans who run a little late needn’t worry much. Latecomers will be welcomed (but there’s no guarantee the refreshments will last that long.)

We encourage Republicans to have their say in choosing their party’s nominee; individual votes matter. What’s more, with the state caucus coming between Super Tuesday and primaries in a handful of Southern states next week — and the issue still undecided — Kansas can make more political noise than it does most presidential seasons.

Be part of that noise on Saturday at Anthony Middle School.

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