Locals play their part in Iowa Caucuses

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Rogeta Halvorson reads off the results the Mendon Republican precinct. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Participants gather to caucus at the Mendon Democratic precinct. (Photo by Meaghan Schneider)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Iowans from all of the state’s 1,681 precincts met Feb. 1 for the Iowa Caucuses, beginning the presidential nomination process. 

With 27.7 percent of the vote, and picking up eight delegates, Ted Cruz was declared the statewide winner. He was followed by Donald Trump, who garnered 24.3 percent of the vote and seven delegates, while Marco Rubio received 23.1 percent of the vote and seven delegates.

Ted Cruz also won Clayton County, where he received 35.2 percent of the vote. Coming in second and third were Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, with 29.4 percent and 12.9 percent of the vote, respectively.

Several local precincts did not follow the Clayton County trend, however. In the Mendon precinct, with 36.9 percent of the vote, Trump bested Cruz, who had just 20 percent of the vote. Ben Carson was third in that precinct, at 16.9 percent. 

With 34.7 percent of the vote, Trump also came out on top in the Giard/Luana/Monona precinct, narrowly edging out Cruz, who had 33.7 percent. Jeb Bush was third with 9.9 percent.

Trump was the winner in the Farmersburg/Wagner precinct, as well, gaining 33.3 percent of the vote. Cruz was second with 31.6 percent, while Carly Fiorina was third with 12.3 percent of the vote.

Participating in the Mendon caucus, Neil Dodgen said he supported Cruz.

“He has a proven conservative track record,” Dodgen said, adding that he also likes Cruz’s Christian values. “I think he’s trustworthy and will follow through and provide good leadership.”

Deb Scott said she planned to back Fiorina, citing the candidate’s thoughts on second amendment rights and immigration, as well as her pledge to make the tax code simpler.

MFL MarMac student Ashton Houg said he supports Trump.

“He’s a non-politician and all about business,” he said. “I think he can help the economy.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, with 49.9 percent of the statewide vote and 22 delegates, edged out Bernie Sanders, who picked up 49.6 percent of the vote and 21 delegates.

In Clayton County, Sanders narrowly came out on top, with 51 percent of the vote, while Clinton was supported by 49 percent of voters.

Voters at the Mendon precinct were evenly split, with half showing support for Clinton and the other half throwing in with Sanders.

With 53.8 percent of the vote, Clinton came out ahead in the Giard/Luana/Monona precinct, while Sanders racked up 46.2 percent.

In the Farmersburg/Wagner precinct, Sanders won easily, with 60 percent of the vote, while Clinton picked up 40 percent.

Several young voters participated in the Mendon Democratic caucus, including Bailey Boland, who supported Bernie Sanders.

“He’s a family man and has good ideas and isn’t using a negative campaign to win votes,” she said.

Linda Miller voted for Clinton, stating that she likes what Clinton stands for and believes she has the experience the country needs.

A middle-age male voter said he also appreciated Clinton’s experience dealing with other politicians and dignitaries. In addition, he felt some of Sanders’ ideas were unattainable, and that supporting Clinton would give the Democratic party a better chance of winning the election.

No matter where their allegiances stood, voters were proud of Iowa’s role as the first step in the nomination process.

“It makes me feel proud that we set the way for the rest of the nation,” Boland said.

“I’m proud that Iowa’s trusted to start the process,” Dodgen said, “that our decisions really matter.”

“It’s awe-inspiring to be the start,” Scott said, noting that she’ll also be glad when the political ads are over.

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