In our view: Get Involved in Politics

For both R’s and D’s, precinct caucusespresent a great way to join the action

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Rock-ribbed Republicans and die-hard Democrats already have their calendars marked for their next important events, on Saturday for the R’s and on Sunday, April 15, for the D’s.Our message is for other Washingtonians, those who might not be so deeply immersed in grass-roots politics but who believe now might be the time to test the waters.

Aside from voting, there might be no better way to increase your participation in local politics than to attend your precinct caucuses. That’s where straw polls are taken, political views are exchanged, the first round of delegates are chosen and, more informally, plenty of new friendships can be established.

When it comes to caucuses, we recommend no party over the other. Our broader recommendation is for you to consider attending a precinct caucus of your favorite party. (You’ll be asked to declare a party preference when you register.) But, even though we’re uncommitted on the best party caucus to attend, there are two realities that make the local Republican caucuses a bit more newsworthy at this time: Their caucuses are just three days away (Democrats will gather about six weeks later), and the Republicans still have a 2012 presidential candidate to select (Democrats have their minds made up on that matter).

Saturday’s GOP caucuses will start with registration at 9:30 a.m., and you’ll need to attend your own precinct’s event. If you don’t know your precinct number, check your voter registration card, or visit http://myvote.wa.gov or call the Clark County Elections Office at 360-397-2345.

For the Democrats, caucuses will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

Both parties will use caucuses to advance delegates to county conventions, then to state conventions and ultimately to national party conventions. And both parties (gosh, these Republicans and Democrats sure have a lot in common, don’t they?) are pooling from five to 20-plus precincts at group meeting sites. To find out where your precinct will caucus, visit the local party websites. For the local Republican Party: http://www.clarkcountygop.org. For the local Democratic Party: http://www.bluedonkeys.com.

According to Bob Young of The Seattle Times, GOP officials expect 40,000 to 60,000 caucusgoers statewide, a sharp increase over about 13,000 who attended four years ago. That’s because the GOP presidential nominee remains undetermined so late in the year. Saturday’s GOP caucuses are expected to produce 14,353 delegates, and the list will be narrowed to 1,500 at the county conventions, then to 43 at the state GOP convention. Young also wrote: “If the GOP presidential race continues on its current trajectory with no clear winner emerging then Washington state could become vital in June, when 43 national delegates, pledged to a specific candidate or candidates will be determined.”

For Republicans, the Clark County convention will be March 31 and the state convention will be May 30-June 2 in Tacoma.

For Democrats, the Clark County convention will be April 28 and the state convention will be June 1-3 in Seattle.

Whether you’re pleased with the current state of party politics and want to become part of the action, or you’re frustrated with the direction of party politics and want to affect changes, you’ve got a great opportunity to get involved in the next three-plus months. And it all starts with the precinct caucuses.