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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 9, 2008 12:41 PM

Caucus crowds showing up early

Posted by David Postman

Reporter Stuart Eskenazi is at Foster High School in Tukwila. That’s in the 11th Legislative District and will be where 10 strongly Democratic precincts meet today. In 2004 the precincts voted 65 percent for Democrat John Kerry for president. And all but one of those 10 precincts voted for Christine Gregoire over Dino Rossi in the governor’s race.

People started showing up at 11 a.m. for the 1 p.m. start time. There are now about 50 people in the lunchroom, playing cards and chatting.

One thing that first-time caucus goers may be surprised by is the party and partisan atmosphere. These are not state-run elections. There are campaign signs, buttons, solicitations for donations, etc.

Meanwhile, at the Everett Civic Auditorium in downtown Everett, reporter Diane Brooks says as of noon there there were already about 400 Democrats waiting for the doors to open. All 120 precincts in the 38th Legislative District, which includes Everett, Marysville and the Tulalip reservation, are caucusing there.

More from Brooks:

By 1 p.m., the building had surpassed it's 1,500-seat capacity.

"How many people are here for their first caucus?" asked 38th District chair Debra Wright, as the start time neared. A sea of hands shot up followed by a group cheer.

This is the first time the Democrats have staged a mass caucus for all 120 precincts in the 38th District, which includes most of Everett and Marysville as well as the Tulalip Reservation. In 2004, the district set a recent-memory record with a turnout of about 900 people, Wright said.

The 38th is considered solidly Democratic: In 2006, both state Sen. Jean Berkey and state Rep. Mike Sells ran unopposed for re-election.

"This is exciting. It's just wonderful to see this many people so engaged," said first-time caucus-goer Scott Wessel-Estes, 48, an attorney.

In White Center, Ralph Thomas is seeing big crowds, too:

At White Center Heights Elementary School, south of West Seattle, people were streaming in as the caucus starting time approached. Twelve precincts are meeting at the school, and more than 150 people had arrived by about 12:45 p.m.

"This already is way more than the last time," area caucus coordinator Elizabeth Giba said, comparing today's turnout with that of 2004.

By 1 p.m. there more than 300 people there. Extra tables and chairs are being brought in.

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