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The Gazette KCRG
Posted January 3, 2012
Democrats gather to maintain momentum in North Liberty

NORTH LIBERTY – Maintain the momentum.

That was the message President Barack Obama had for Iowa Democrats Tuesday night as he addressed those who he said inspired his campaign four years ago. It was a message that was met with applause at the North Liberty Community Center, where roughly 100 Democrats from six precincts gathered to caucus.

“I came out tonight because I’d like to see the president get as much support as his opponents,” Elliott Whitticar of Solon said.

As Republicans spoke on behalf of various candidates in the Gerdin Conference Center a floor below, Democrats discussed how to help Obama’s reelection bid, as well as support Democratic candidates in state and federal elections.

“I noticed a lot of enthusiasm for President Obama” said Joe Nehring, the caucus chair for the North Liberty Community

Joe Nehring, caucus chair, North Liberty Community Center

Center. “People were more engaged than I thought they would be for an uncontested race.”

Brian Flaherty, who served as the chair during the 2007 caucus, told the audience he had “a very reminiscent feeling” of four years ago.

“We had a number of people giving us a message of hope, of change, wanting to move us in a new direction,” Flaherty said. “This is where ‘Yes we can’ began.”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns. The economy continues to be on the minds of Johnson County Democrats, with several pointing to job creation as a top priority. Concerns of privatizing Medicare and Social Security were also discussed, with resolutions adopted to protect both from cuts. These resolutions are just a few that will be presented at the county convention.

“I have concerns where we’re at with foreign policy,” said Jeff Shander of Solon. “I think if we spent one-tenth as much money on alternative energy as we did on our military, we wouldn’t have to be so concerned with our presence in the Middle East.”

Dividing into their precincts, Tuesday’s agenda called for the both the delegation selection and resolution process. Preference groups could be formed if at least 15 percent of the attendees wished to do so.

“We always caucus,” Mary Beth Lapis of Swisher said. “We didn’t necessarily come in with a resolution. This is what we do.”

“It’s primarily momentum at this point,” Ed Dove, also of Swisher, said.

“I think (Obama) has accomplished a lot,” Whitticar said. “The lingering effects of the real estate bubble bursting make it difficult to get excited, but if you step back, he has accomplished a lot.”

There were no protests at this caucus site, nor did anyone speak on behalf of a Republican candidate. That doesn’t mean the GOP wasn’t on the mind of Democratic voters.

“We just need to get rid of the Tea Party people,” Tom Douglass of Madison Township said. “Their message and methods are just setting us back.”

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