Thus saith the gentleman sitting in the folding chair behind me in the church gym when the minute hand hit seven o'clock. The woman beside him (his wife, I presume) said, "Yup. Let's get 'er done."
About six people scooted in the door in the couple minutes after seven before they shut the doors to anyone else. They missed the chance to complete the media survey at the front door, which I only mention because the survey was referred to in the news all evening and I kept saying, "I remember that question . . . yeah, I remember that question . . . " But they headed to the back of the room to show their photo ID, pick up a ballot, sign the petition to get Steve King running for Congress again this year, and then found their own folding chair (if they could) on the appropriate side of the gym -- district 20 or district 21.
A very-Iowa-looking gentleman started us off with the Pledge of Allegiance, and the pastor of the church we were meeting in led us all in an invocational prayer asking for wisdom in the decision we were about to make. Our first duty was to elect a permanent chairman for the meeting (the previously mentioned gentleman apparently being the temporary chair, though I'm not sure how he got the job). Gentleman offered himself as a nomination, quite humbly I'll add, and asked for other nominations. Silence. "Anyone?" More silence -- and a few chuckles. "Well, I guess it's a landslide then." Laughter. "You're doin' great, Tom!" -- from behind me. So gentleman is named Tom. Good to know.
Tom apparently had twisted his wife's arm to be the temporary secretary for the meeting and put her name in for nomination for permanent secretary. And again, Tom's wife won by a landslide. :) Tom informed us that the "Lincoln bag" would be going around if anyone wanted to make a donation to the county party to support the election of Republicans in the county. And then we got down to real business.
He went through the names of the candidates on the ballot one by one and asked if anyone would like to speak for five minutes on that candidate's behalf. If more than one person wanted to speak (which only happened in the case of Ron Paul), they were supposed to work it out between them who would do the speaking . . . but essentially, it ended up being the first one to get to the mic. Surprisingly, nobody at our caucus wanted to speak on Bachmann's behalf. Or Huntsman's, but I expected that. (Woman-behind-me said, "He doesn't like us.")
These speakers were, again, very Iowa. They ranged from the woman who started by telling us she would not give us a canned speech, and then proceeded to get out her index cards with stats and quotes . . . to the unprepared but passionate mom who stood up in support of her candidate because no one else was doing it. One kid reminded me Michael Baumann from NJ, except he was wearing a suit. Level of eloquency varied, but clearly no one was a professional speaker. They simply spoke from the heart, for better or worse.
And then we voted. Very simple -- borrow a pen from your neighbor if you don't have one, check a box, pass it to the center aisle. Nothing too secretive about it. I could've seen my neighbor's vote if I wanted to.
On a personal note, I came in leaning toward one candidate but willing to be swayed toward a couple others. I wasn't swayed. Hubby said he didn't know who he was going to vote for until he looked at the ballot with pen in hand, ready to mark, and decided this one was the one who was most closely aligned with his own beliefs. I imagine our last-minute choices were not unusual.
Then, while they counted the ballots, we had district business to do. Many people left, of course, but for those that remained, we elected representatives to go to a couple of different county convention-type things. I say "elected" . . . basically, somebody in the room volunteered somebody else in the room until they had the number of people necessary and then we all said "Aye". It took a while, just because some arms had to be twisted, I think, to get enough "volunteers". I wouldn't have minded going if I'd known we were going to be around. Our eldest was there with us, quite bored at this point (actually, she was looking through her contacts on her phone for people to nominate). We kept telling her, this will be something to tell people about someday. She said, yeah, I know -- but right now, it's boring.
When all arms available for twisting were twisted off, Tom returned to the mic with the results: Romney 115, Santorum 46, Gingerich 34, Perry 27, Paul 6, Bachmann 4. Surprisingly lopsided, I thought. Especially when I heard later that Santorum won our county. But Romney was my man tonight, so I was content.
At 8:01, Tom entertained a motion that we adjourn and we all said "Aye" while we gathered up our stuff. And done is what we got 'er.