WELLINGTON — “I gotta say I apologize for the zoo,” said Mark Jones, precinct director for Carr 404 to the crowd of Republicans that gathered Tuesday night in Wellington’s Comfort Inn.
Judy and Ralph Singer, 64 and 66 respectively, stood in the corner of the pool hall waiting for the caucus that was starting at 7:30 — half an hour late.
The gathering, seven times the size of the norm, according to the assistant precinct director, seemed to swallow the elderly couple that huddled next to the Pepsi machine next to the door.
The Singers remember voting last in 1968, having switched parties to vote for Bobby Kennedy, who Mrs. Singer said “had 10 times the backbone of his brother.”
Since then, they have not been involved in politics. They never caucused before.
“It’s really confusing,” Mrs. Singer said.
When they saw the word “caucus” in local newspapers earlier that day in place of “primary” as they had seen in the past, Mrs. Singer didn’t know what it meant and turned to her coworker at Home Depot and said, “Where can I find out what I have to do?”
Her friend told her to call the Collegian.
The Collegian received the call about 1 p.m. and told her what to do and where to go for her precinct. Then reporters asked to tag along.
Sitting in the hotel before the vote, the Singers said they were there to support John McCain for the Republican ticket because they believe he will bring jobs back to America.
Judy Singer said she has seen her job at Home Depot, where she has worked for 11 years, go downhill while the company has sent business to India.
“You call with bookkeeping questions and talk to them — they speak English, but not my English,” she said.
They also like the Arizona governor, they said, because McCain has the most loyalty to what they called unwavering George W. Bush conservatism.
“I’d vote for Bush again this year,” Judy Singer said. “He stood for what he’s said and hasn’t cowed down like the other people have.”
They said McCain would stay true to his word as well.
Another issue the couple feels is very important is health care for the elderly.
“We’re pretty healthy, so we’re gonna be okay, but there’s a lot of seniors that won’t,” Judy Singer said, but she doesn’t believe any candidate has a good health policy, even the Democrats.
But they said they don’t trust either party.
“It seems like every time they put something out there, there’s a hook on it,” Ralph Singer said.
“I wish that there was a pill you could take to make everything honest,” Judy Singer added.
In the pool hall that caucus-goers got pushed into because the rented lobby was too full, the Singers stood in near the rear exit and listened to 65 percent of the voters advocate for Mitt Romney — who would take the state with 54 percent of the vote — while few others supported McCain and fringe candidates Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.
“I voted for Perot in ’92 and we got a Clinton,” said one man who stood in the corner against Paul. “We need to get someone in office who can do something for us. That’s Mitt Romney.”
“I’m not really too sure what to think about that,” Judy Singer said.
Ralph Singer said Romney’s religious beliefs would dictate his policy.
“If (Romney becomes) president, his religion will come first,” he said. “If not, he’s not a true Mormon.”
After they put their votes in for McCain and found that he only garnered nine of the 69 votes, Ralph Singer helped his wife on with her coat and they exited the room, disappointed in the result.
“You get jaded after so many years, and all you want is the good of the people,” Judy Singer said of politics and her waning trust for elected officials.
The final result for precinct 404 pegged Romney with 45 votes, McCain with nine, Paul with five, Huckabee with five, and Rudy Giuliani (who dropped out of the race last month) with one. Two people were undecided.
The couple, who never caucused before, joined thousands of other voters in Colorado who had also never caucused, making record-breaking numbers.
News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.