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December 31, 2007 / The Brooklyn Paper in Brooklyn, Iowa

EXCLUSIVE! Mayor Rickard to vote for Obama

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BROOKLYN, IOWA — The longtime Republican mayor of this tiny heartland town will stun his neighbors — and send shockwaves that will reach his countrymen in the real Brooklyn — when he breaks ranks with the GOP to vote for Sen. Barack Obama at the Iowa caucuses this Thursday night.

“After eight years of this administration, I’ve had it,” Mayor Loren Rickard told The Brooklyn Paper, which sent a reporter to Brooklyn, Iowa — population 1,200 — for the “first-in-the-nation” caucus.

“We’ve got a currency that’s practically worthless and a war without end,” he added. “I thought they were crazy to start the war with Iraq — and crazier that they didn’t even seem to have a plan to fight it.”

And Rickard said he’s not only dissatisfied with the president, but with his would-be successors.

“I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life and I simply don’t recognize these people [the GOP field],” he said. “Meanwhile, the Democrats have six solid candidates — though I think [Dennis] Kucinich is a bit out there.”

Rickard singled out Joe Biden and Obama for praise — but said he wouldn’t back Biden because “he can’t win.”

Few in the farming town in eastern Iowa know that their third-term Republican mayor will side with the Democrats on Thursday. And it might not have happened were it not for the efforts of Obama supporter, Bev Rens.

“I held a house party for Obama and [the mayor] came with his son, Joel,” said Rens, the Poweshiek County Democratic Party co-chair. “He listened to what I had to say and he pledged to vote for Obama that night. It sent a shiver through me!”

Rens said she also scored the mayor’s son, who was originally backing New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The Republican crossovers were no surprise to Brooklyn (Iowa) Chronicle Editor Sky Eilers.

“There are many Republicans in Iowa who feel that their party is in trouble in November, but they also don’t want to see Hillary be president, so they’re switching parties to back other Democrats,” said Eilers. “Hillary has had the biggest machine behind her here. Some people feel she’s buying her way through the process while Obama is appealing to the grassroots, which is what you have here in Brooklyn.”

Eilers didn’t think Rickard’s betrayal of party would send a shockwave through the town.

“Shockwave? In Brooklyn [Iowa]? I don’t think so,” Eilers said.

But he did think many eyes would be following Rickard as he entered the Democratic, rather than Republican, caucus.

“He is very well respected here, so people will certainly talk about it,” he said.

Under Iowa election law, registered voters can switch their party affiliation on caucus night, which Rickard said he would do by signing in as a Democrat at Thursday’s gathering at the Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcolm elementary school.

Despite the excitement over the presidential election, the caucus process in Brooklyn is subdued, Rens said. In some years, only a handful of Democrats and Republicans have gathered, she said.

“I started in 1988 and was caucusing for Jesse Jackson,” she said. “There was six or seven people there, total.”

But this year, turnout is expected to be high at both party caucuses. The Republicans will gather at 6:30 pm and begin with a straw poll of all voters in attendance, while Democrats start a half-hour later — and dig in for an arduous process.

First, supporters of each candidate get to make a presentation, hoping to sway the undecided. Then, a vote is taken. Candidates who receive 15 percent or more are considered “viable,” and move forward to a second round of voting. Supporters of “non-viable” candidates can shift their allegiance to one of the viable candidates or form alliances with supporters of other “non-viable” candidates before the second round.

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Reader Feedback

Sam from Richmond, VA says:
This is one of the things I love about Iowa. I grew up in Bettendorf during the 80's while Terry Branstad was Governor and Jim Leach was my rep. I'm a staunch Democrat, but I felt that they and most Iowa politicians of both parties seemed to be very open-minded to working outside the party structure to benefit their constituents. Only after moving to the East Coast did I realize that partisanship seems to be the norm in the country and that too many politicians (especially during the primary season) are more interested in burnishing their partisan credentials than speaking their minds when it's not politically convenient.

I don't know Mayor Rickard at all and have only driven by Brooklyn on I-80, but it sounds like you all are the type of folks that make me love the state. Too bad I'm too weak to -50 wind chills and 95 degree Augusts with blood sucking mosquitoes.
Dec. 31, 2007, 7:14 pm
Steven from Urbandale says:
Thank you for your thoughtful decision. I too will be caucusing for Obama, because I believe the future demands a united America.
Jan. 1, 2008, 2:06 am
PJL from Cedar Rapids, IA says:
Thank you for your intelligent open mindedness. Everyone can certainly relate to your desire for change. I too will caucus for Senator Obama because he is the best candidate to bring change.
Jan. 1, 2008, 2:38 pm
David from central Illinois says:
Mayor Rickard, you are doing what you have been elected to do, and that is lead the citizens of your community. Barack Obama WILL be the next President of the United States and this will be a better nation because of it. PS- take some of your neighbors with you.
Jan. 1, 2008, 5:02 pm
Stuart from Minneapolis says:
Way to go Dr Rickard- you make all the Brooklyn-ite transplants in the Twin Cities proud!
Jan. 2, 2008, 3:38 pm
Franklin from Boston,Massachusetts says:
I'm glad to read about support to Obama coming from former Republicans officials and the previous comments here. TERRIFIC. As you all predicted, Senator Obama just WON the IOWA caucuses...Godd job IOWA. Iam a Boston's Obama canvasser in NH, precisely in Manchester. I tell you what, WE ARE GOING TO WIN IN NH because the people we met at doorsteps and those we called out of Nashua or Manchester offices are similar to those i saw in IOWA causueses. they are decent people and with sound judgement. GO OBAMA 08'
Jan. 5, 2008, 1:40 pm
john says:
Barack Obama supports killing a baby after he or she is completely out of his or her mother’s body: he opposed the BAIP any in the Illinois Senate in 2001 and 2002!
June 19, 2008, 3:34 pm

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