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Election 2008:
Covering the Iowa Caucuses, Part 1

Election 2008:
Covering the Iowa Caucuses, Part 1


Dispatch 1: Meet Sharon Malheiro, an Obama supporter and the first of five LGBT Iowans whom we are getting to know as we follow them through the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008, the first step in nominating process on the road to the White House.

Caucus Goer: Sharon Malheiro

Age: 51

Candidate: Barack Obama

Hometown: Des Moines

First-time Caucuser?: "Oh, no. I've caucused several times."

Candidate in 2004: Howard Dean

Why Obama?

Sharon Malheiro is supporting Illinois senator Barack Obama because she thinks he can help bring about a change in the divisive political climate in America. "He's got the ability to unite both Republicans and the Democrats to seek solutions of international import -- the war, the ecology, the economy," she says. In terms of issues that are important to her personal life, says Malheiro, "I think he's got what we need to bring about the changes for LGBT civil rights."

A Second Choice? (In the Iowa Democratic caucus, if your candidate does not win the support of at least 15% of the people at your caucus site, he or she is not considered "viable" and you must choose another candidate.)

Malheiro has definitely thought about who her second choice might be, partly because all the campaigns have been asking. "You get phone calls every day. It's the curse and the blessing of living in Iowa," she says. "You talk to more people every day about your political thoughts." But Malheiro hasn't entirely settled on a runner up. "There's a couple of candidates that I also really like. I like John Edwards, and I like Joe Biden. Some of it depends on who else would be viable in my precinct. Some of it is also driven by what my neighbors talk to me about. I've got a couple of neighbors whom I really respect, who are really passionate for one candidate or another, and hearing them can convince you."

The Holiday Factor

Overall, a lot of people have held off on fervently talking up their candidate, according to Malheiro, mostly because the caucus on January 3 is coming so close to the holiday season. For her part, Malheiro kept her Obama yard sign in her garage pre-Christmas. "Yard signs are a big deal here," she says. "My partner was asking me, 'When are you going to put your Obama sign out?' I said, 'After Christmas, because I don't know if I want a political sign in my yard with my Christmas display.'"

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