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Election 2008:
The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 2

Election 2008:
The Iowa Caucuses, Dispatch 2


Jeff Westendorf is president of the Log Cabin Republicans chapter in Iowa and a Giuliani supporter. Westendorf is the second of five LGBT Iowans whom The Advocate will follow through the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008.

Caucusgoer: Jeff Westendorf

Age: 38

Candidate: Rudy Giuliani

Hometown: Des Moines

First-time Caucuser?: "No. This is my third or fourth, I think."

Last Candidate Caucused For: John McCain in 2000. Bush had no opposition in 2004.

Why Giuliani?

"I'm supporting Giuliani because number one, he's a fiscal conservative," says Westendorf, "and I consider him a social moderate -- to maybe even liberal -- in the Republican Party." One thing Westendorf admires about a candidate, whether they're Republican or Democrat, is when they take a stand and stick with it. "Giuliani stands by his convictions as it relates to abortion, as it relates to gay rights issues, regardless of what's politically popular within the party. I would love to see the Ron Paul stance that gays should marry, but Giuliani's not there." Giuliani backs domestic partnerships as a vehicle for giving gays and lesbians legal protections in their relationships. "He's standing up and he's saying that even though it's not politically popular within the party."

Democratic vs. Republican Caucuses

The Republican caucus in Iowa is more of a straightforward straw poll, as opposed to the Democratic caucus, where people choose a candidate and, if she or he doesn't get at least 15% of the votes in the room, the caucuser must choose another candidate. At the GOP caucuses, "people will advocate for certain candidates and then, after the discussion, there's a motion to cease discussion and then you vote," says Westendorf. Pretty simple, right?

After Midnight...

Here's where it gets interesting. At the end of both Republican and Democratic caucuses, some people leave while others stay to present party platforms, which are discussed and then voted on. A majority vote of whoever is present at that point advances a platform to the county convention where it's debated and voted on again in similar fashion.

"I think that's the more critical part of the caucus than the straw poll itself -- the grassroots discussion and plank development ideas," says Westendorf. Social conservatives such as evangelical Christians are famously committed to staying at Iowa's GOP caucuses into the wee hours of the morning in order to advance conservative planks to the county, the state, and eventually, the national convention -- or so they hope. That's why Westendorf plans to make it a late night. "I'll be there to argue against those types of planks," he says, "and I'm working on developing my own platform proposal that would be a more inclusive definition of family, a more inclusive definition of civil rights and liberties that doesn't discriminate against any particular person, including but not limited to homosexuals."

Westendorf has been researching his platform and talking to the national Log Cabin organization about how to word such a proposal. "My thought is if I can draft one or two that I think can be accepted, I'm going to disseminate those to some other people in the state of Iowa," he says, hoping that other caucus locations might also be able to pass the platform.

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