In Tulalip, a house divided over the election

TULALIP — Deano Garcia used to have campaign signs for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He posted them in the front yard and in a window at the family’s two-story house after last month’s presidential caucuses.

“I think she’s the one that we need,” said Garcia, 49.

“I think she understands what the American people want.”

He knew the signs wouldn’t last. Deano Garcia is outnumbered.

“I took them down and put them in the recycle bin,” said Stella Garcia, 49, Deano’s wife. “Me and my son gang up on old poor Hillary and my husband. We sock it to him.”

Stella Garcia, clearly, is for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

“We need a change, someone young to run this world,” she said. “Out with the old, in with the new.”

Like Democrats across the country, the Garcia household is split.

Obama won Vermont Tuesday night, but Clinton snapped his winning streak with wins in Ohio and Rhode Island. The two were locked in a race too close to call in Texas.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain of Arizona clinched the Republican party nomination with a projected majority of delegates.

“I think McCain is going to be a great candidate for our party,” said Chris Nandor of Arlington, chairman of the 39th District Republicans. “There’s a lot of people in the Republican party who don’t agree, but I think most of them will come around. When he’s matched up against Hillary or Obama, the overwhelming majority will come out for McCain.”

With each debate, caucus and primary, the tight presidential race between Clinton and Obama signals another round at the Garcia family home.

In the living room. In the kitchen. Over the computer. In front of the television.

“I’m not backing down,” Stella Garcia said. “There’s not anything that’s led me to change my mind. I’m sticking with Obama.”

Obama’s streak included a projected majority of caucus delegates in Washington state and Snohomish County.

The state’s superdelegates still favor Clinton over Obama 6-4, but seven remain uncommitted.

The Democratic race for the White House is getting more intense.

“It’s time for Hillary to open up, should have done it a long ago,” Deano Garcia said. “She’s tried being a lady and holding back, I guess.”

As the candidates’ rhetoric heats up, so does that of the supporters, Snohomish County Democratic Party chairman Mark Hintz said.

“You’re looking at two really good people out there, they both have different styles,” Hintz said. “I think that Clinton comes more from the aristocracy side of the party and I think that Barack Obama comes from the grass roots.”

The Garcias have been married 21 years. Stella Garcia cares for sick and disabled elderly for Catholic Community Services. Deano Garcia worked for Todd Pacific Shipyards until he was injured two years ago.

Their college son, Christian, is 20 and joins in the debates, shifting the balance in Garciaville to Obama.

“I think Hillary is still ahead. My wife and boy don’t think so,” Deano Garcia said.

At February’s Democratic caucuses, Deano Garcia was chosen as an alternate delegate for Clinton, and Stella Garcia is a delegate for Obama.

The couple will be at the April 5 legislative district caucuses.

They’ve spent up to two hours at a stretch debating whose candidate is best, targeting “Clinton’s whining” or “Obama’s inexperience.” There’s plenty of room for zingers.

The two say they don’t really argue. “We’re all entitled to our opinion, right?” Stella Garcia asks.

The Garcia house divided will yet stand.

“If Obama didn’t win, I’d rather have Hillary more than McCain,” Stella Garcia said.

Deano Garcia added: “I just hope out of it all, the president that we have adheres to the needs and desires of the American people.”

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or jswitzer@heraldnet.com.

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