By Shelby Horton and Lauren Rust
At the Kansas State Fairgrounds crowds of Democrats formed outside of the 4-H Encampment building on March 5, holding signs and wearing buttons to support their candidate of choice. In a sea of Bernie Sanders pins and Hillary Clinton stickers, they awaited for their voices to be heard at the Democratic Caucus.
This was considered to be the largest Democratic Caucus Hutchinson has had, with a total number of 756 people attending the event. At least 264 people from the Republican and Independent parties re-registered as Democrats or registered for the first time at the caucus so they could vote Democrat this election year.
For many people, this was their first-time caucusing, such as for Adi Flora Van Wye, Hutchinson, a first-time caucus attendee who got involved in politics recently when her band, “Time in Space,” played at a Bernie Sanders benefit show in Hutchinson.
“I started to see how passionate younger people were about this candidate,” she said, “I had always been a little skeptical about politics and had little faith in the political system. But then I saw how diverse his (Sanders’) supporters were; it sparked my interest and I started to research. I’m still not very politically literate, but seeing how passionate people are has made me think change is possible.”
The unexpected amount of people left those running the caucus feeling unprepared, when the predicted amount of people had been around 400.
Volunteers and campaign team members were seen running throughout the lines, dividing registered voters and non-registered voters into separate lines handing out forms, and assisting first time voters.
Jessica Yenni, Wakefield, described the large numbers of voters as being like a large sporting event filled with high energy and excitement.
“Young and spry new voters, old hippies, and even Republicans who changed their party brought the support and energy which gave the individuals running the caucuses more fortitude and resilience,” Yenni said.
Sanders had a large turn-out with a total of 505 supporters out of the 756 people attending the caucus that afternoon. However, Clinton had her fair share of supporters in attendance who intended to be heard.
“I think Hillary has more experience compared to anyone that is running and I like Bernie, but I think he is promising things that he cannot deliver on,” said Galgalena Crable, Hutchinson.
Meanwhile, Suzanne Dome, an HCC alumnus, believed Sanders was the candidate to choose for his social change plan, and his willingness to fight for the people.
“Hillary is too political; she’s a snake and she lies and has gotten in trouble before,” Dome said. “Bernie has fought for the same thing for years. He stood for the same values he has for his entire political career, and he stands for the people and doesn’t want to do things for himself, his pockets, or corporations,” she said.
At the end of the Kansas Caucus, Sanders left with six delegates, and Clinton won two delegates to take on to the district conventions.