Santorum is favorite of Hastings Republicans, but barelyRick Santorum was easily the favorite of Minnesota Republican caucus-goers Tuesday night. Republican caucus goers in Hastings liked him, too. In the city of Hastings presidential preferential straw vote, Santorum won with 58 votes. Ron Paul was a very close second with 57 votes, followed by Mitt Romney with 36 votes and Newt Gingrich with 26 votes.
By: Jane Lightbourn, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Rick Santorum was easily the favorite of Minnesota Republican caucus-goers Tuesday night. Republican caucus goers in Hastings liked him, too.
In the city of Hastings presidential preferential straw vote, Santorum won with 58 votes. Ron Paul was a very close second with 57 votes, followed by Mitt Romney with 36 votes and Newt Gingrich with 26 votes.
The turnout for the Republican caucuses was not a surprise, said Tony Horton, Hastings Republican caucus site leader and House District 57B chair.
“The turnout was about what our leaders expected,” he said. “Many of the attendees were new, stating this was their first caucus ever.”
There were 178 people in attendance, plus a handful of observers who looked on but did not participate in the caucuses. There were 10 different precincts holding meetings at Hastings High School.
At the Democratic District caucuses in Hastings, the turnout was much lower and quieter, according to Don Slaten, District 57B Democrat chair. He counted 52 people in attendance. The Democrats also broke into their different precincts at Hastings Middle School.
“It was very low,” he said, “With no presidential preference ballot race, there was not much discussion.” The attendees still cast a ballot, though.
Horton said the evening was a busy one – in addition to the presidential poll, precinct officers were elected and delegates and alternates were selected to attend the Senate district convention. New volunteers and election judges registered and several resolutions were passed for the Minnesota Republican platform.
One that caught his attention when he was checking the forms at the evening’s conclusion was that several people proposed term limits for state representative.
“It was clear that many of the new people were there to support their guy," Horton said. “Some of them were a bit surprised to learn that we actually accomplish a lot of business at the precinct caucuses – it’s more than the presidential vote.”
Most of the people stayed through the end of the evening too, Horton said.
As he went from one precinct to another at the middle school, Slaten heard some of the discussion about resolutions, including the right to work and human rights.
As part of the meeting, the Democrats also elected delegates for their March 31 Senate district convention. Because of the lower turnout, everyone who was in attendance could have been delegates. About half were elected.
All ages were in attendance from the high school students to senior citizens. Also in attendance were State Sen. Katie Sieben, and Joanna Bayers of Hastings, who has indicated she is running for the House of Representatives this year.
“She announced her candidacy in December,” said Slaten.
The Democrats will hold their Senate district meeting March 31 in South St. Paul.