Picking the next president: GOP, Democratic delegates to meet Saturday

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama won Washington’s caucuses 2-1 in February, but whether he appears on the November ballot is still up in the air.

The number of delegates who support the Illinois politician will be measured again Saturday in legislative districts across the state, and show how he stacks up against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

Republicans, too, plan to meet Saturday to choose delegates, but there’s no question who the party’s presidential candidate is: Arizona Sen. John McCain will be on the ballot in November.

No matter the party, people chosen as delegates in February can change their minds of who they’re backing.

Things are expected to be raucous at the Democratic caucuses because the party hasn’t settled behind either Obama or Clinton.

“The party has not decided on a presidential nominee, and this is the whittling down process,” Snohomish County Democratic Party chairman Mark Hintz said. “Some people will be very vehement about who can win and the reasons the person can win.”

Obama will likely keep his share of delegates, Hintz predicted.

“I don’t think you’ll see a lot of change because of the overwhelming grass-roots support for Barack Obama,” Hintz said. “I think the percentages will stay quite a bit the same.”

The Democratic Legislative District caucuses are spread around the county. They start at 10 a.m., with registration generally one hour earlier. The 10th District plans to meet April 13.

Democrats are electing delegates and alternates to the 1st and 2nd Congressional District caucuses to be held on May 17.

The Democratic county convention is April 13 at Comcast Arena at Everett Events Center, the Democratic state convention June 13 and 14 and national convention Aug. 25-28.

The GOP is meeting at Jackson High School in Mill Creek, where state Attorney General Rob McKenna is the scheduled keynote speaker.

Arizona Sen. John McCain is the party’s presidential candidate.

Though the candidate is named, people still are eager to be chosen as delegates to the state and national conventions, and that’s boosting turnout, GOP party chairwoman Geri Modrell said. More than 500 people are expected Saturday.

“We’re ready to debate the platform and ready to hear from the candidates,” Modrell said.

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