Written by Wildcat Dianne on 11 Feb, 2008
HOORAY! The doors of the Qwest Arena finally opened, and our frozen bodies could finally go inside to cast our vote for President of the United States and warm up. The line moved slowly, and I kept telling Mom we would be inside…Read More
HOORAY! The doors of the Qwest Arena finally opened, and our frozen bodies could finally go inside to cast our vote for President of the United States and warm up. The line moved slowly, and I kept telling Mom we would be inside soon and get warm. About 10 minute after the doors opened, we made it inside, and more volunteers asked everyone who they were voting for, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama. This would determine where everyone would sit inside the arena and make it easy for the head count later on. When Mom and I got inside, a lady volunteer asked us who we were supporting, and we both said, "Barack Obama." We were sent to the right of the entrance and the seats on the right side of the arena. If we had filled out our ballots, we could deposit them in the ballot boxes set up at the front of the arena. Anyone who was undecided could wait until the speeches were over to cast their vote, but we could not go home until the head count was done after 7 p.m.
The seats on Obama's side were filling up fast, and the Uecker seats seemed to be filling up first. There were seats on the floor of the arena where the Idaho Steelheads play hockey, and Mom and I took seats there. We had a good view of the stage and could see everything from our vantage point. Hillary Clinton's side of the arena on the left wasn't filling up as fast as Barack Obama's, and there was only a small section next to our floor seats reserved for John Edwards along with undecided voter seats on the floor and a small section in the nosebleed seats.
Our seats had a couple of more goodie bags along with signs saying Obama '08: Barack Obama.com on blue cardboard for all to hold up before and during the speeches. Mom and I agreed to take our signs home as souvenirs and hang them in our windows or in the house. "That ought to make the Republicans in the neighborhood happy!", I quipped.
By 6:30, our side of the arena was almost full, and we heard that people were being turned away outside because they weren't expecting so many people to vote on this day. There were many empty seats on Hillary's side, but it looked like everyone was voting for Obama. Since Mom and I were planning on leaving about 8 since the weather was supposed to be snowy and I had to get up at 4 a.m. for work the next morning, we were glad when another volunteer came around and said after the head count and if we had cast our ballots, we could go home.
During the 1:45 minute wait for the Caucus to begin, several folks around us were on their cell phones getting news about the other Caucuses and Primaries throughout the USA. 22 states were having their primaries or Caucuses on February 5, and Idaho was one of them. Before leaving home, we found out that Mike Huckabee had taken Arkansas for the Republicans, and not long after sitting down in the arena, we found out that Obama had taken Georgia at a rate of 2:1. Everyone on the Obama side broke out in estatic cheers.
Finally at 7 p.m., the festivities began. Volunteers were running around making the head counts, and then we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and The National Anthem. The American flag was behind our seats, and some folks couldn't find them at first and one guy joked about having to salute the "United States of Budweiser" in reference to the neon Budweiser bottle near the flags!
After the anthem and pledge, the speakers started their speeches. Each keynote speaker for their candidate would come on stage in alphabetical order of the candidate's name. So that meant, Hillary Clinton's supporter was first, followed by John Edwards, and then Barack Obama. First they honored five veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom, and Randy Johnson, a veteran of Iraqi Freedom, gave a good speech on why he supported the Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton's chief Idaho supporter and keynote speaker was Bethine Church, widow of Senator Frank Church, who served Idaho as a Democratic Senator during the 1970's until his untimely death in 1982. Bethine Church has still remained involved with the Idaho Democrats since her husband's death. Although Mrs. Church was in a wheelchair and had to be lifted onto the stage, she was still a commanding presence, and everyone stood up and gave her a standing ovation. The speech was about 10 minutes long and Mrs. Church said her long time friendship with Hillary and Bill was one of the reasons why she was supporting Hillary for president.
Mrs. Church's speech over with, we listened to John Edward's supporter, and then the place erupted when Boise Mayor Dave Bieter came on stage supporting Barack Obama. Idaho's governor Butch Otter, Senators Larry Crapo, and the infamous Larry Craig ("I have a wide stance, your honor!"), and representatives to Congress are all republicans, but the Boise Mayor is a Democrat. What better person to support Obama is Dave Bieter? It took a while for the audience to calm down after Mr. Bieter was introduced, and he started talking which frenzied the crowd more.
It was at this time that Mom and I made our way out of the Arena to get home. If we had stayed, we would never had gotten home at a reasonable hour and I would have been way too tired for work the next morning, but it would have been for a good cause.
The next day at work, I told my friends at work about our going to the Caucus, and my buddy Rusty in Hardware said, "you were at the Caucus!? So was Barbara and I!" I asked where Rusty and his wife were sitting, and he said they were in the Uecker seats near the American and Canadian flags. I said to Rusty, I thought I was the lone Democrat at work and that I was glad I wasn't alone in my political beliefs.
Participating in a Caucus is a great experience for one to have in a lifetime, and I highly recommend it in order to keep informed on the politics in one's state. It was a big learning experience for Mom and me, and the thousands of others who were there that cold night in February.
After having dinner at Old Chicago, Mom and I bundled up and walked over to the Qwest Arena where the Idaho Democratic Caucus was being held on February 5, 2008. Our local news station told us that the doors to the arena would open…Read More
After having dinner at Old Chicago, Mom and I bundled up and walked over to the Qwest Arena where the Idaho Democratic Caucus was being held on February 5, 2008. Our local news station told us that the doors to the arena would open at 5 p.m. and that we should arrive early in order to get a good seat. The Qwest Arena is a small venue located in Downtown Boise that only holds about 7,000 people, so Mom and I left home early to do errands and have an early dinner.
Mom and I got to the Qwest Arena about 4:30, and the line was about halfway across the Grove, where the arena is located. There were two lines leading to the entrance, and we weren't sure which line we were to be in until someone said that each line was for each Congressional District. In Ada County's case, it is split into two Congressional districts, 1 and 2. Depending on where you live in Ada County was where you were to wait in line. Since Mom and I live in Meridian, which is about 11 miles from Boise, we are considered District 1, and we went into that line to wait for admittance into the Qwest Arena. We received a goody bag with a pen and information on the candidates and their mission. Since the publications had been put out before Biden, Edwards, and Richardson had dropped out of the race, they were still listed in the pamphlet. John Edwards supporters were invited to the Caucus since many of them were divided between voting for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and the night's speakers would help them decide on who to support.
Considering it was about 30 degrees with a windchill in the 20's and snow flurries were starting to fall as we waited outside, there was a huge crowd starting to gather to participate in the Democratic Caucus. After 8 years of Bush and the Republicans in the White House, Idaho's Democrats are sick of the war, recession, and the Republican good 'ole boy network and came out in droves to cast their "VOTE FOR CHANGE."
After freezing in line for a few minutes, a Barack Obama volunteer came through the lines with ballot forms for us to fill out. I got my ballot filled out pretty quick, but Mom insisted on using my back as a desk and filling out her ballot took longer because she was cold and shivering and her pen kept freezing up on her. GRRR! Ballots filled out, we held on to them in order to turn them inside and waited a few minutes more to get inside. ANother volunteer was signing up people to vote in the November elections, but they didn't need a voter card to vote in the caucus, but it's better to be registered now.
A young kid was coming through the line with Obama stickers to put on our coats or purses, and Mom and I got a couple of stickers for us, and from all of the people we saw waiting in line with us, most of them were voting for Barack Obama. There were also people selling Barack Obama t-shirts in orange or blue.
Being so cold, Barack Obama had set up a coffee stand for people to get free coffee or hot chocolate to keep them warm while waiting in line. I offered to get Mom some just for her to warm her hands on the cup, but she said she would be OK. A few minutes longer, Mom was not enjoying waiting in line in the cold, and some of the folks working the coffee table started to walk through the lines giving everyone a cup of coffee who asked. They came up to us, and I said I would take a cup. Mom declined, and I had a few sips of the hot coffee although I am a tea drinker. HEY! It was something warm for the body. After a few sips, I gave Mom the cup, and she gave in and took the cup to keep her hands warm.
By 5:00, the line to get inside the Qwest Arena was out to 8th Street on the west side of the Boise Grove, and people were still coming. And Mom and I thought we were endangered species being Democrats in Idaho. Boy, were we wrong!
Finally at 5:00, the doors to Qwest Arena, and over 6,500 frozen Idahoans made their way inside. For Part II on the Idaho Democratic Caucus, please go on to my next entry, The Idaho Democratic Caucus.