McClure caucuses favor Kerry over Dean Opposite true for 36th District totals

Presidential candidate Howard Dean at 41 percent narrowly edged out John Kerry at 39 percent in the number of delegates chosen last Saturday in 36th District caucuses.

That made the legislative district covering Queen Anne, Magnolia and parts of Belltown, Ballard and downtown Seattle one of only three districts statewide to support the former front-runner.

However, over at jammed caucus meetings in McClure Middle School on Upper Queen Anne Hill, the reverse was true. Kerry ended up with 53 percent of the delegates compared with 41 percent for Dean, according to longtime Democratic activist Bill Blair, who oversaw voting in the eight precincts that gathered in the school.

A candidate's electability was a factor for some of the 248 Democrats who voted at the McClure caucuses, while others worried that voting for front-runner Kerry would cut off any chances for Dean if Kerry stumbles in the campaign. "What happened to Dean?" wondered Annelisi Denison, a former Danish citizen who described herself as a good Democrat.

Denison said she had been lean- ing toward a vote for Dean. "But I think I'm going to vote for Kerry."

Rodney Broome, a former English citizen, said he was taking part in the caucus voting because he's mad at the direction America has taken under the Bush administration.

"This election is firing everybody up, and I want to do what I can to get Bush out of office," he said. "I think, at this point, I'm going to vote for Dean." Broome conceded that he doesn't think Dean will win the primaries, but said he didn't want the candidate eliminated from the mix so early in the game.

Linda Warren thinks Kerry will come out on top in the end. "I love Dean," she said, "but I'm going for Kerry, whom I love almost as much." That could cause a little friction at home, though. "My husband will kill me because he's a Dean man to the marrow," she said.

Mike Warren - Linda's husband, a Precinct Committee Officer in the 36th and a longtime neighborhood activist - agreed that he's rooting for Dean. "I'm hoping we do well," he said, while declining to make any predictions about the caucus outcome.

Pat Shanahan said she was going to vote for Kerry, although she also conceded anything was possible. "If there's overwhelming support for Dean, I'll listen."

Her husband, Knut Nordness, said he was a Dean fan. "My feeling is, I don't want anybody to run away with it yet." At the same time, Nordness said he was open to supporting other Democratic candidates - or at least their stands on issues.

"Kucinich has some excellent ideas Democrats ought to talk about," he said. Others apparently agreed, because Kucinich pulled in 11 percent of the 36th District delegates. He received no delegates in the McClure caucus, although John Edwards ended up with one.

Connie Youel was going to vote with her heart. "Even though I think Kerry is the most electable, I'm going to vote for Dean," she said.

Allan Padgett said he was a Dean fan at first, but he was unimpressed with Dean's showing in the debates, especially when he was speaking off the cuff. "So I have moved on to sort of deciding between Edwards and Kerry," Padgett said.

At the table for precinct number 1739, caucus chair Lloyd Hara warned that a wholesale vote for Kerry would cut the other candidates out of the process. "I personally believe General Clark can win," he added.

David Law, who once lived in Massachusetts, described Kerry as a "second tier" candidate, and he worried that a vote for him could alienate younger voters who came out to support Dean. "I can tell you from experience, nobody in Massachusetts has any fondness for this guy," Law added.

One woman in the 1739 caucus said Kerry is boring, adding that an exciting candidate is needed to get Democratic voters to the polls. Ed Henderson disagreed, noting that Kerry is a Vietnam veteran.

"That makes him bulletproof as far as the Republicans are concerned," he said. "I think he's the best bet to beat Bush," Henderson added, "and I think he will make a good president."

In the end, the 1739 caucus voted to have two delegates for Kerry, one for Dean and one who was uncommitted.

Blair, who oversaw the caucus votes, said he was a Kerry supporter, although he was very disappointed that the senator voted for the Iraqi war.

Asked whether he thought the Democratic Party has become more energized than usual for the next presidential election, he said: "I certainly hope so. We had an election stolen from us. We were dragged into a war on false pretenses. I don't know how much more it takes."

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at 461-1309 or

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