The line of area Republican caucus-goers reached far down the sidewalk of the Hughes Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 23 showing a turn out that far exceeded years past. The school site served both Mesquite and Bunkerville precincts in the “first in the West” test of Republican presidential candidates.
In the end, Donald Trump won the majority of votes at 46 percent with Marco Rubio coming in second at 24 percent. Ted Cruz was third at 21 percent, Ben Carson took 5 percent and John Kasich received 4 percent.
Richard Kochera, a 12-year Mesquite resident echoed the sentiment of many people who attended Tuesday night’s event saying “This is the first time my wife and I have attended a caucus. That’s how important I think this year’s election is. I am a Trump fan big time. We need change. I’m tired of the corruption and idiots and big money in politics. Trump is an independent running as a republican and I’m a republican voting as an independent.”
Apparently he wasn’t alone in those thoughts as the statewide number of participants more than doubled the turn out in 2012 with just over 75,000 people voting in Tuesday’s Republican caucus. There are 423,000 registered Republicans state-wide.
Mesquite and Bunkerville areas count 4,000 registered Republicans. As of press time, the actual number of local caucus participants was not yet available.
When the doors opened at exactly 5 p.m. the crowds poured through moving to individual precinct tables to check in. After showing proper identification, each person received a ballot with candidate names, even those who had dropped out of the race. Some precinct tables quickly ran out of ballots but were soon replenished. Lines for some precincts were very long while others were extremely short. It all depended on the geographic location of the voter.
After receiving their ballot many people marked their candidate of choice, dropped the ballot in a box and left the building. This is the first year that caucus-goers were not required to stay for the entire evening. Only those who hadn’t decided on a candidate and wanted to hear a sales pitch or those who wanted to run for county convention delegates needed to stay. Most people did not.
Carol deGanahl, site manager for the caucus, kept moving through the area solving one small problem after another. Other caucus workers kept the lines moving as quickly as they could. Even though the core part of the caucus was scheduled to start around 6 p.m. there were still a hundred or so people in line outside waiting to get in.
Once all ballots had been cast, two people tallied the numbers under the watchful eye of others. The final results were reported to the Clark County Republican Party headquarters.
Trump won every county in the state except Elko and Lincoln counties that went to Cruz. In Clark County alone Trump received 20,132 votes; Rubio took 10,114; Cruz got 7,857; Carson garnered 1,488; Kasich got 1,399 votes. Some candidates who had already suspended their campaigns still received votes.
Trump received 12 delegates statewide while Rubio and Cruz each received five delegates.