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Online exclusive – Weakley County weighs in on Iowa caucus

Online exclusive – Weakley County weighs in on Iowa caucus

By: By Sabrina Bates, Chief Staff Writer

While a division among the political parties appears imminent across the country, voters were watching last night’s caucus results from the first state to jump into the 2008 presidential election process. Locally, Republican, as well as Democratic, voters are watchful of the possible precedent that could be set after caucus members in Iowa weighed in on the presidential candidates.
“Yes, I think we are all interested with what will happen in Iowa, but the (local) Republican Party is hesitant to get behind any candidate until after our primary in Tennessee,” David Hawks, Weakley County Republican Party Chairman, stated Thursday.
Hawks explained while many Republican voters have an idea of who they may cast their vote for during the Feb. 5 state primary, the party as a whole will not be endorsing any candidate until after the results are tallied from the primary election.
“I will be representing the party then, regardless of who that candidate is,” Hawks stated.
On the other side of the coin, the Weakley County Democratic Party members kept an eye on last night’s votes in Iowa and that could be a deciding factor with their candidate choice for those who are undecided. Weakley County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Bell explained Democratic voters who are still unsure will be watchful of the candidate who gains momentum as a result of Iowa’s caucus.
“If one candidate comes out strong as the frontrunner from Iowa and then heads to New Hampshire and takes a majority lead there, it could very well affect Democratic voters’ decisions here in Tennessee,” Bell said in a phone interview.
Key issues weigh heavy on every voter’s mind, but both political parties on a local level stressed the importance of very different issues.
“It’s conservatism and liberalism. The Republican conservative values are: against tax increases, against abortion, protecting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman and the protection of this country. It’s a different world today than it was before 9-11,” Hawks explained.
Bell admitted that Democrats tend to emphasize “electability” and who can actually win the general election in November.
“This is a unique and very important election. I think many Democrats will be satisfied with any Democratic candidate who can win the general election,” Bell said.
The county Democratic Party chair offered three “major issues” that he thinks, “folks are really going to talk about” during this presidential election.
“The war in Iraq, although I don’t think it’s the major issue; health care and something that people feel immediately would be the economy. Our growing debt is a big issue and it comes down to our current economy,” Bell said.
One issue both chairmen agreed on involves the low number of voters from either political party that turned out for the elections in 2004.
While almost 68 percent of registered voters cast their ballot during the November 2004 general election, only about 6 and a half percent of registered voters showed up during the February 2004 primary, when only Democrats appeared on the ballot.
Both party chairmen agreed their hope is to get people to the polls.
“The key thing is to get voters to listen to the issues and what each party has to offer. Pick a candidate whose values and issues are near and dear to your heart, whether they are Republican or Democrat,” Hawks stressed.
“Weigh the candidates for the primary and general elections, we need to vote. You’ve got to get out and do it,” Bell said.
While the presidential candidates may obtain “bragging rights” pending the results in Iowa, undecided voters are encouraged by both political party chairmen in Weakley County to voice an opinion and not “sit at home” during the Tennessee state presidential preference primary set for Feb. 5 when Republican and Democrat candidates will be vying for a seat as the next Commander-in-Chief.

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