Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the winner at two rural Cedar Rapids Republican caucuses Tuesday at Viola Gibson Elementary School, 6061 Gibson Dr. NE in Cedar Rapids.
Romney captured 88 votes in Monroe 1 and 54 votes in Cedar Rapids 47. Rick Santorum was a solid second place finisher, with 63 votes in Monroe 1 and 34 votes in Cedar Rapids 47.
About 300 people voted in the two precinct caucuses, a far larger turnout than in the 2008 GOP caucus. Attendees ranged in age from their early 20s to senior citizens like James Wetherbee, 80, of rural Linn County.
“We came in basically open. I have a lot of respect for Newt Gingrich and his capacity to get things done,” Wetherbee said. “He was well represented tonight and that’s for whom I cast my vote.
“I’ve also been impressed with Rick Perry,” Wetherbee added. “My wife voted for him, so we split the ticket.”
Adrianna Tuohino, 48, of rural Cedar Rapids, was prepared to vote for Rick Santorum after meeting him at a house party.
“I think if you see the climate out there, people want someone with integrity,” Tuohino said. “Santorum has values and that’s something that’s appreciated. He looked me in the eye when he talked with me, and I feel that showed his integrity and sincerity.”
Philip Koch of rural Cedar Rapids, who chaired the Monroe 1 caucus, was pleased with the turnout. Koch, who had never chaired a caucus before, said he decided to get involved because “a lot of people don’t like what is happening in the country.”
The caucuses at Viola Gibson Elementary were orderly, with people speaking for Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Cedar Rapids 47 Chairman Pete Welch had to ask those speaking for candidates in Monroe 1 to address his caucus, because none of the candidates sent anyone to Welch’s caucus to speak on their behalf.
Koch was prepared to close the door at 7 p.m., but more than 150 people were waiting to register. After asking those in attendance whether to admit the those waiting in line, Koch delayed the start of the caucus until everyone was registered.
Bruce Johnson of Cedar Rapids, long active in Linn County GOP elections, answered questions about the various committees that were formed while the ballots were tallied in Monroe 1. Johnson, who spoke earlier in support of Newt Gingerich, recommended that caucus attendees get involved on district committees, saying he has enjoyed the experience.