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Republicans caucus in Marysville | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — The cafeteria of Totem Middle School was standing room only on the morning of Saturday, March 3, as Republicans from Legisla-tive Districts 38, 39 and 44 came together to caucus on behalf of the candidates they’d like to see challenge Barack Obama for the presidency this fall.

Mitt Romney received the most votes of any candidate in Washington state or Snohomish County, garnering 37.6 percent and 42.4 percent of those votes, respectively. The Marysville caucus at Totem Middle School proved to be no exception, as Romney received 142 of those votes, with Ron Paul coming in second with 89 votes, Rick Santorum coming in third with 55 votes and Newt Gingrich receiving 36 votes. The placement order likewise mirrored those of the county and the state.

Iris Lilly, of the Snoho-mish County Republican Party, echoed the surprise of many of the Marysville caucus’ attendees over its turnout numbers.

“This is at least twice as large as it was the last time,” Lilly said, after designated caucus attendees spoke up on behalf of each of the four Republican candidates.

Mark Buse’s sales pitch for Santorum was simple, presenting him as someone who could deliver “a solid whipping to Obama, like Reagan gave Carter,” while George Lindholm touted Paul on a variety of fronts, from Paul’s “consistent conservatism” in opposing government spending and abortion, to his support of national defense and “freedom and prosperity.”

“He has never flip-flopped,” Lindholm said. “He’s also received more contributions from active-duty military than the other candidates combined.”

Kristin Cook, a grass-roots coordinator for Gingrich in Washington state, cited Gingrich’s record of Congressional accomplishments during the 1990s as evidence that he can make gains for “conservative principles” while working in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats.

“My father is progressive with a capital ‘P,’ and Newt is the only one of them he’d consider voting for,” Cook said.

“We all agree that any one of these candidates would be better than Barack Obama,” said Greg Wilcoxson, who drew applause from the audience with his opening for Romney, whom Wilcoxson lauded as a successful businessman of 25 years who helped bring the 2002 Winter Olympics to Utah and would focus on “our number-one priority of jobs.”

Anthony Upchurch found himself wishing that Buse had offered more substantive remarks on Santorum’s behalf. As it stood, Upchurch found himself torn between Santorum and Paul, since both candidates appeal to him for their stances on government spending, abortion and the definition of marriage.

“Ron Paul has been consistent,” Upchurch said. “You go a decade back, he’s been saying the same things.”

Glen Cronk wore his “Newt in 2012” sticker on his shirt because he agreed with Cook that Gingrich has shown his ability to negotiate successfully with Democrats.

“He can find middle ground that’s still heavily on the Republican side,” Cronk said. “He’s hard-headed enough to make the Democrats move right.”

Mike and Corina Hansen pledged to support whomever the Republicans nominated, but they voted for Romney because of his business experience and his moral values.

“Christian values are under assault, so we need someone who can represent them,” Mike Hansen said. “Our country’s financial condition is also hurting our kids, because we’re expecting them to pay it back.”

Rhonda Christenson, a Precinct Committee Officer for Marysville, was undecided on a candidate at the caucus, but not on the criteria she would use to choose one.

“I would want my candidate to be consistently conservative and fiscally responsible,” Christenson said. “Whether he would win or not is important, but it’s not my top priority. Whoever we nominate, I’ll turn out for them.”

Christenson characterized earmarks as sometimes being necessary, but inevitably leading to inefficiency and waste, and likewise argued that the concept of the TSA should have been implemented by more localized agencies, working toward certain national goals of transportation security, rather than existing as a national institution.

“As for the 99 percent Occupy movement, it’s well-meaning but misguided,” Christenson said. “Big businesses and rich people are the ones that do the hiring.”

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