South Whidbey party members follow the leaders

"South Whidbey Democrats and Republicans followed the national leaders of their parties at caucuses held Tuesday night.The Republicans meeting at the Bayview Senior Center backed George W. Bush, who appears to have a lock on the national nomination for president.Bush -- totally, said Mike Shelton, when asked who his Sandy Point precinct residents supported.Warren Fitzpatrick, co-chairman of the event with Fred Fossek, acknowledged that the large majority present at the packed hall favored Bush, even though in last week's presidential primary John McCain won the popular vote in Island County.Fitzpatrick was chair of half the precincts, and he said his people voted 49 for Bush, 9 for McCain, and zero for Alan Keyes.Fitzpatrick said he originally supported McCain, but he switched to Bush as the campaign got negative. You don't accuse your team members of being corrupt, Fitzpatrick said, adding that McCain can't keep his cool.Just down the road at Bayview Hall, South Whidbey Democrats caucused under the direction of longtime party leader Paul Fournier of Langley. Although smaller than the Republican crowd of over 100, there was a good crowd of 66 Democrats in attendance, and Fournier was pleased to see a few young faces. There are people here without gray hair for a change, he said.A head count showed 43 Democrats for Al Gore and 19 for Bill Bradley, while several were uncommitted.Both the Democrats and Republicans from the 15 South Whidbey precincts elected delegates to their county conventions in April, and each precinct took stands on various political issues. Those will be forwarded to county party leaders."

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