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Down-Home Politicking

February 11, 1996|ROGER MUNNS | ASSOCIATED PRESS

DES MOINES — Republicans will hold their precinct caucus at the library in tiny Martelle on Monday because Susan Schmidt got there first.

"I called and beat the Democrats," said Schmidt, 56. "Besides, they had the library the last two times, so they're going to have their caucus at the Methodist Church this year."

Nothing against the church, she said, it's just that the meeting room there takes a while to heat up.

Such are the decisions on where to put caucuses that Monday will help winnow the list of would-be presidents. Unlike voting places, which are used regularly and rarely move, there's no set location list for the caucuses.

The one in an inner-city Des Moines precinct, for example, will be held at the home of Danny Bolt. He's not worried about having enough room.

"There aren't very many Republicans here, so it's not like we're going to strain the foundation," Bolt said. "I could prove in court that there are more transvestites who live here than Republicans."

Finding meeting rooms for about 2,100 caucus sites is the job of local leaders, with first choice being a public place that could be free. That includes schools, community halls, churches, courthouses, banks, YMCAs and Masonic lodges.

"We've got two precincts meeting at the fire hall at Everly," said George Moriarty, Clay County GOP chairman. "They'll be well prepared in case they get a fire call."

Sharon Roberts of Lyman had the caucus at her house in 1988. This year, her precinct and a neighboring one are meeting in a recently closed feed store.

But Allen Conrad of Anamosa, the Jones County GOP chairman, said finding locations isn't as hard as finding leaders. He's decided to collapse several sets of caucuses into one meeting for lack of moderators at each site.

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