The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowans follow hallowed tradition

Supporters of democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton count how many people where there at the Democratic caucus at the Celebration Farm in Iowa City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2015. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out with four delegates while Bernie Sanders came out with three delegates. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

The heaven-scraping mahogany high beams of Celebration Farm are no strangers to floods of emotion.

Quiet “I dos” have echoed through the cavernous space; slow, spinning dances have been shared beneath the spiraling twinkle lights; heartfelt promises to keep in touch have been scrawled on graduation frames.

But on Monday night, it welcomed different bursts of emotion: impassioned pleas for caucus candidates.

The Newport District of Johnson County split its seven delegates — four to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, three to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

That wasn’t the only divide of the night. There were “split families” caucusing for opposing candidates, including Denny and Lisa Sedlacek. He was with Clinton. She was feeling the Bern.

“This might be a divorce after 38 years,” Lisa Sedlacek joked.

Her teasing threats of a walk home couldn’t sway her husband, though.

“Hillary’s gun-control policy is the main reason,” he said. “She’s taking it seriously without going bonkers.”

Like the couple, the crowd started off in high spirits. The anticipation rolled off the group on their dark wooden folding chairs, sitting in neat lines before a pale brick fireplace sloping to the ceiling, a collection of candles emitting low, flickering flames. They were anxious but relatively demure.

Mentioning a candidate’s name quickly changed that, hoots and hollers coating the walls and leaking out into the cold night.

Then came the time for action. Two hundred people headed straight back toward Clinton’s camp, marked by her campaign posters alongside children’s drawings crudely tacked to the wall with blue tape. More than 100 others veered right for Sanders, who had decorated their bodies rather than the walls. A few stragglers hung back for O’Malley, one caucus-attendee, Ron Pile, already wearing a Sanders sticker below his one for O’Malley, resigned to the “good chance I’ll need a second choice.” Even fewer stood strong in their uncommitted status.

“If you want your country to change, you have to take part,” said Lisa Sedlacek, at her first caucus in more than 20 years.

It’s a lesson another attendee, Jennifer Kirschling, was trying to teach her 12-year-old son as they caucused together for Clinton.

“He wanted to come,” she said. “He’s been to a couple events and chose his candidate on his own. He teased me he was going for Trump. He texted me from school to ask if he could go to the Trump rally. I thought it might be a teaching moment, but thankfully, he was joking.”

This was serious business, though.

Down to Sanders and Clinton for the final alignment, the Sanders supporters started shouting and clapping while the Clinton supporters simply smiled and urged more quietly that loners join their side. The decision was announced, and a few seemed disappointed, albeit not surprised.

“For the area, I could see it coming,” said UI junior Brittany Woodson, 22. “I’m counting on campus to be a bit more Bernie. The biggest complaint about our generation is we aren’t getting involved, and that’s our biggest responsibility.”

Overall, though, no one seemed to be too upset at the precinct’s outcome, pulling on coats with smiles before stepping toward the overcrowded parking lot.

“They’re very similar candidates,” said Erin Danielson, a student at Lutheran College who had the chance to see both Clinton and Sanders speak during their campaigns and caucused for Clinton. “I’m excited. And this is just the first step of the Iowa caucuses.”


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