Saturday’s Republican and Democratic caucuses in Garden City attracted more than 1,000 voters who provided Sens. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders big wins.
Cruz carried Saturday’s Republican caucus of Finney and Scott Counties with 352 votes, or 43.5 percent of the vote.
Businessman Donald Trump finished second with 236 votes or 29.2 percent, Gov. John Kasich came in third with 112 votes or 14 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio finished with 105 votes or 13 percent. Richard Henkle, chairman of the Finney County Republican Party, said 57 provisional ballots were not counted and will be sent to Topeka election officials who will make the decision on whether they should be included in the count.
Statewide, Texas Republican Cruz finished first with 48 percent, followed by Trump with 23 percent, Rubio with 16.7 percent and Kasich with 10.7 percent. Forty delegates to this summer’s presidential convention were up for grabs and will be distributed proportionally based on caucus results.
On the Democratic side, at the Finney County Democratic caucus, out of 308 voters, 227 voted for Sanders and 81 voted for Clinton. According to Finney County Co-Democratic Chairman Zach Worf, Sanders will receive three delegates and Clinton will receive one.
Statewide, Sanders decisively won a majority of Democratic caucus delegates in staunchly conservative Kansas, handing Clinton the loss.
Sanders received 26,450 votes in Kansas, compared with 12,593 for Clinton. With the win, Sanders claimed 23 of the state’s delegates, leaving Clinton with the other 10, according to the Kansas Democratic Party.
The liberal senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist won big in the college counties of Riley and Douglas, as well as in Topeka.
The formats for the caucuses between the two parties were different, with Republicans voting in secret when desired, while Democrats were split into two rooms based on the candidate they endorsed and a third room for undecided voters.
Several Finney and Scott County Republicans, who voted in the Endowment Room in the Beth Tedrow Student Center at Garden City Community College, said they chose their candidate based on what they thought would be most beneficial to the country.
Jared Froetschner, a Donald Trump supporter, said a lot of people are upset at what has been going on in the nation’s capital and wants a president who is not afraid to change the status quo. He said a lot of the “establishment” candidates won’t bring the change that the United States needs.
“We are tired of the hypocrites,” Froetschner said. “I am a lifelong Republican, but my party is not the party I grew up with. People are tired of the establishment.”
He said the federal government is $19 trillion in debt, and added that both the Democrats and Republicans share the blame.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” he said. “It’s the heart and soul of our Republican party.”
Shane Ross cast his vote for Sen. Ted Cruz, saying he was undecided until the Republican debate last week when Cruz outlined some of his plans.
“If we don’t win (the presidential election) it will be four more years of Obama,” Ross said, alluding to his belief that Clinton will not change much from what Obama has done in the last seven years.
Sabrina Lange voted for Cruz because she thinks he would be good for the economy.
“There have been a lot of businesses closing and it would be nice to elect a leader who gives opportunities for businesses to come back,” Lange said. “I really believe Cruz would be the guy who can bring this back to the country.”
Sabrina Lange’s husband, Charles Lange, agreed that Cruz looks like the best candidate.
“For me the biggest issue is the government overreach,” Charles Lange said, and mentioned the Affordable Care Act mandate as one example.
Charles Lange also said he is supporting Cruz because he thinks the candidate knows more about the constitution, but added that he will support whoever the Republican nominee is in the general election.
“We need to move forward,” he said.
Neil C. O’Connell voted for Cruz because he likes his knowledge of the law.
“He is a constitutionalist, and I like his stance on the Second Amendment,” he said.
Clayton Lee said he was torn between voting for Trump and Ohio Gov. Kasich. Lee thinks Trump would be the best candidate for job growth, and thought being considered part of the “old school guard” could hurt Kasich. He stressed that he will be voting for the Republican nominee in November.
“It doesn’t matter who the nominee is,” Lee said. “There is no way I am voting for a criminal or a communist.”
At the Democrat caucus at St. Catherine Hospital Saturday afternoon, Sanders supporters outnumbered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s supporters by a three-to-one margin.
Each side was allowed to give comments in support of their preferred candidate after watching a short video from Clinton and Sanders.
Carole Geier, a Clinton supporter, said the former Secretary of State is the most qualified person from either party who is running for the Oval Office. She said Clinton has been vilified for so long in so many different ways, including the Benghazi situation in which Geier said Clinton was not at fault.
“Hillary is the one, but if Bernie wins we should vote for him,” she said. “Keep it in the family.”
Loretta De La Rosa, also a Clinton supporter, said Clinton has been a Democrat her whole life, unlike Sanders who has been an Independent, and that the candidate is aware of what is going on in and outside the United States. She said Clinton has a solid mind and will work for education and youth.
“I like Bernie Sanders. I do not dislike him. We see socialism in a different (way),” she said alluding to the fact that Sanders calls himself a Democratic socialist.
Ben Kraker, a Sanders’ supporter, said the Vermont senator is the most consistent and ethical person running for office. In Kraker’s opinion, the quality of the person in office is more important than the policies.
Kale Baker, a Sanders’ supporter, said it was nice to be in a party where the candidates act civilly rather than one in which candidates insult and degrade each other.
“We are focused on the policies,” Baker said. “I am a Bernie Sanders’ supporter. I do feel the Bern. It is so important that we go out to vote. If we decide to tear each other apart we will never grow.”
He said at the end of the day Democrats must remember that they “all bleed blue.”