Partisanship in paradise: Island Dems vote for Clinton
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Just days after Iowa’s latest straw poll in the 2008 presidential election, Island Democrats conducted a straw poll of their own.
An overwhelming majority voted for Hillary Clinton in the Anna Maria Island Democratic Club’s poll during a meeting Nov. 19 at the BeachHouse Restaurant in Bradenton Beach.
Florida will hold its presidential preference primary Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. In the recent past, the state’s presidential primary has taken place in September. The Florida Legislature’s recent decision to bump up the primary may cost Florida all its delegates to the Democratic National Convention and half its delegates to the Republican National Convention.
The conflict between the state and national parties over the primary date resulted in all but one candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for president refraining from campaign appearances in Florida.
That, in turn, has cost the candidates some good cheer among Democratic voters, including one member of the Island Democratic Club who plans to vote for a write-in candidate in January.
Bill McGrath said he intends to write-in a vote for Al Gore, the Democrats’ candidate in 2000. “It’s a protest,” McGrath said. “But I can support any of the candidates.”
So, in the Island straw poll last week, Gore received one vote; Barack Obama, six votes; Bill Richardson and John Edwards, four votes each; Joe Biden, three votes; Dennis Kucinich, two votes; and Clinton, 25 votes. Christopher J. Dodd and Mike Gravel did not receive any votes.
Club member Pat Geyer, a Holmes Beach city commissioner, said she’s liked Clinton since her tour of duty in the White House as first lady.
Now, Geyer said, she’s eager to see Clinton work in the Oval Office.
“I just think she’s the best qualified, period,” Geyer said. “With the second debate, I decided for sure.”
Club member Ken McConoughey said he was not a Clinton supporter until he heard her speak at a forum in Davenport, Iowa. “She converted me,” he said. “She is very impressive.”
John Hunt also said he planned to vote for Clinton. Her edge, he said, is that she’s a woman. “It’s time,” Hunt said. “Fair is fair.”
“The Democrats here are a pretty good indicator,” club president Dale DeHaan said after reading the vote totals. In November 2003, the club majority favored John Kerry for the party’s nomination.
The club’s vote trends with the rest of Florida. A recent Sunshine State poll gave Clinton, with 48 percent of the vote, a 24-point lead over her closest opponent, Obama. But Iowa’s most recent straw poll showed Obama with a 4-point lead over Clinton, followed by Edwards.
Outside the Island Democratic Club meeting, among sunbathers on the beach, Clinton continued to poll ahead of the other Democrats in the race, but not as strongly as among hard-core Democrats. Clinton, in a Democrat on the beach survey, had about 34 percent of the vote.
The Islander, in its waterfront polling, also found a number of undecided voters.
“I just haven’t made up my mind,” said Samantha Trainor of Holmes Beach. “I think it is too early really. But I am interested and watching some of the debates.”
Her son Pete, 8, added, “My dad’s a Republican.”
With the election -which also includes a controversial constitutional amendment on property taxes - two months away, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office is currently registering people to vote.
According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, there are 1,432 registered voters in the city of Anna Maria, including 445 declared Democrats and 666 declared Republicans.
Holmes Beach has 3,266 registered voters, with 927 declared Democrats and 1,504 declared Republicans.
Bradenton Beach’s registered voters number 876, including 289 declared Democrats and 326 declared Republicans.
Countywide, there are 193,409 registered voters.
For more information about the election, visit www.votemanatee.com.