Precinct 23 – the best attended Republican caucus among 86 Linn County precinct caucuses – remains a Mitt Romney stronghold, even more so than four years ago.
Romney garnered 160 votes tonight among 380 cast, or 42 percent of the total. Those numbers are improvements over his 2008 showing in Precinct 23, which gathered this evening in the cafeteria at Kennedy High School. In 2008, Romney won 130 of 357 votes, or 36.4 percent of the total.
Finishing in second place was Ron Paul with 73 votes, or 19.2 percent; followed by Newt Gingrich with 58 votes, or 15.2 percent; Rick Santorum, 47 votes, or 12.4 percent; Rick Perry, 29 votes, or 7.6 percent; and Michele Bachmann, 11 votes, or 2.9 percent.
Dr. Jim Justice, 60, was among those voting for Romney, as he did four years ago.
“My No. 1 priority is defeating President Obama’s re-election, and I think Mitt Romney has the best chance of defeating him,” said Justice.
He said he liked Ron Paul, too, but his interest in Paul stopped there. “He doesn’t stand a chance,” the medical internist said.
Ted and Stacie Carlson, both 41, came to the Precinct 23 caucus with their four young children and no sure decision on which of two candidates to vote for – Romney or Rick Santorum.
“I like Rick Santorum’s Christian values, but I do like Mitt Romney, and I think he has proven leadership,” said Stacie Carlson. Ted Carlson said he couldn’t agree more. He said he voted for Romney.
Jess Nowak, 55, said he decided a few months ago to back Paul.
“He’s the only one talking about the financial chaos this country has going on right now,” Nowak said. “He’s concerned about the money.”
Robin Werling, 48, also was a Paul supporter. Werling said he liked Paul’s call for less spending, less government and less military involvement around the world.
“I’d like to see us pull our troops back and not try to be an empire,” said Werling, a veteran. The nation can’t continue to depend on foreigners paying for 40 percent of the American budget, he said.
Suzanne Lind, 51, said she came to the Precinct 23 caucus still debating about who to vote for. She liked Santorum and Rick Perry because they shared her Christian values, but in the end she voted for Perry because of the success he has had in Texas creating jobs.
Her vote, she hoped, would help keep Perry in the race.