Politically inclined Alaskans are able to have their say in the presidential primary process today, as Juneau Democrats gather at Centennial Hall for a caucus, and Repubilcans vote in a preference poll at the Hangar on the Wharf.
The combination of hotly contested races and Alaska's participation in Super Tuesday for the first time has made the state a new player in presidental candidate selection.
"In the past, by the time the caucuses have happened, it's always been a done deal," said Rep Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Kodiak.
"This is much more interesting," she said.
LeDoux said she's only recently decided who she's supporting for the nomination, and she's not saying who it is.
And today votes may get Alaska some national attention as well, said state Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau.
Twenty-two states will participate in Super Tuesday, providing a huge chunk of the delegates needed to win party nominations. Alaska results may not come in by Lower 48 news deadlines, he said.
"Alaska will be in the next news cycle," he said.
That could give the Alaska winner a boost going into the remainder of the campaign.
Elton said he is planning to attend the Democratic caucus, where he'll be supporting Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Elton is of the few Democrats in the Legislature who will be able to participate in the Alaska caucuses because he's close to home. Democrats are allowed to vote only in their home districts.
Republican rules allow for participation by people from outside their home districts, and organizers of the Republican preference poll at the Hangar on the Wharf say they're expecting a strong showing from the capital.
Obama's Alaska campaign workers worked through the day Monday to prepare for the campaign, said Chris Ferrell, Alaska field director for the campaign.
They've set up phone banks in Anchorage to remind voters who have expressed support for Obama over the last several months of how and where to participate. A less formal organization in Juneau was doing the same thing Monday evening.
"Everybody's getting their ducks in a row for tomorrow, and loading up on signs, stickers and working out teams for the caucus site," he said.
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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