Local News

N.C. Democrats To Hold First-Ever Presidential Caucus

Posted April 16, 2004

— North Carolina Democrats are holding a presidential caucus Saturday -- the first of its kind in the state.

Other states have them regularly, but not the Tar Heel State.

Sen. John Kerry is the likely candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, but North Carolina's Democratic Party still wants registered Democrats to choose their candidate.

A redistricting dispute in the state pushed back the primary until July. That is not enough time for state Democrats to choose delegates for their national convention, which is also held in July.

"While we may have an idea of who the presidential nominee is going to be, there's all kinds of other business that's conducted at the convention. We will nominate a candidate for vice president, which has sparked interest in North Carolina as you can imagine," said Scott Falmlem of the state Democratic Party.

In Saturday's caucus, voters will not go to their assigned polling place. Instead, there are

127 sites across the state

, including four in Wake County. Caucus hours are from 8 a.m. until noon.

Party leaders say the caucus will be different than those held in other states.

In Iowa for example, voters debate the candidates and then publicly declare their preference. In North Carolina, each voter just fills out a ballot. It is called a caucus because the ballot is not a secret.

Will people really go out and vote? Democratic consultant Brad Crone does not think so.

"It's really going to be a nonevent," Crone said. "People are going to go out and participate, but those who are participating are your inside party people. It's truly an inside game."

The cost of the caucus is estimated at $50,000 and is being paid for by the state Democratic Party.

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