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KS: Excitement Over Caucuses High

By Marc S. Kaufman
The Kansas Democratic caucuses will be settled at least in part by how Kansans answer this question: What exactly makes someone a native son?

Obama's mother and her parents were all raised in Kansas, and the senator came to the state last month to remind people of that. His rally in his grandfather's home town of El Dorado brought out 2,500 people and featured some top elected officials in the state -- including popular Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. She not only endorsed Obama, but is also featured in political ads now playing across the state.

The Kansas legislature declined to fund presidential primaries this year, and so both parties are organizing and funding their own caucuses. Today's Democratic caucuses will select 32 of the state's 41 delegates, while the Republican caucuses will be held next Tuesday. The Democrats will meet at 50 sites and will select delegates proportionally -- with 11 chosen at-large and 21 by congressional district.

A Democratic Party e-mail straw poll in December had Obama ahead of Clinton by 36 percent to 26 percent, but with 19 percent for Edwards. While Obama has won the support of the governor and some other top Democrats, the Kansas City Star endorse Clinton.

Democratic Party officials say excitement over the caucus is at an all-time high. In 2004, only 1,500 Democrats statewide went to caucuses held after John Kerry had in effect locked up the nomination. Officials say they expect twice that number will caucus in the city of Lawrence alone.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 10:34 PM ET
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