Kansans have a say in race for president

Donald Trump won seven of the 11 Republican primaries and caucuses Tuesday.
Donald Trump won seven of the 11 Republican primaries and caucuses Tuesday. AP

Though big wins on Super Tuesday gave Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton commanding leads, the races for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are not over. So Kansans who participate in Saturday’s caucuses can still have a say in who may become our next president.

GOP officials are panicking that Trump may be unstoppable. He won seven of the 11 primaries and caucuses Tuesday, demonstrating he has broad support.

But even if Trump gathers the most delegates, it is possible he won’t win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention this summer. If that happens, delegates would be free to change alliances, which opens opportunities for the other candidates.

Several of the state’s top officials – including Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita – are hoping that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., can surge and become that alternative candidate. However, Rubio didn’t do as well Tuesday as many hoped, which is making some Republicans now wonder whether Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is the only candidate who could stop Trump – a prospect that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., once described as choosing between “being shot or poisoned.”

On the Democratic side, Clinton appears to be steamrolling to the nomination. However, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has passionate supporters, which could make for interesting caucuses Saturday.

Kansas typically has relatively low turnout at its caucuses. But that means those who do participate can have greater influence on the outcome.

One reason that few participate is that caucus procedures can be confusing and differ between the political parties.

The Republican caucus in Wichita is at Century II, and secret balloting can occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. However, you can attend a caucus at any of the 102 sites across the state (and even in St. Louis, if you are there attending the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament) – though only those who registered as a Republican by Feb. 4 can vote.

Democratic caucuses are occurring at 3 p.m. throughout Wichita. Rather than a secret ballot, voting involves gathering in groups of supporters of a particular candidate. Also, you don’t have to already be registered to vote or as a Democrat. You can register at a caucus, starting at 1 p.m., though you need to attend the caucus in your state Senate district (find the location at kansasdems.org/where-to-caucus) and must be in line by 3 p.m. to participate in the caucuses.

This presidential race has been anything but predictable thus far, with wild rhetoric and swings in momentum. Kansans shouldn’t miss the chance to add to the drama.