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Huckabee squeezes out Romney in Becker County GOP vote

DETROIT LAKES -- If it were up to the majority of Becker County Republican voters, Mike Huckabee would be the next U.S. president.

Super Tuesday night, the Republicans gathered in three locations -- Detroit Lakes, Frazee and Wolf Lake -- to cast their non-binding vote as to whom they want to represent them in the next election.

"With the religious nature of this area, it's not too surprising that Huckabee would win," John Moberg said. The Detroit Lakes man has been working with the Republican Party for "too long," he joked, and specifically with the Becker County party for at least 12 years. "I was just interested in seeing our government is run correctly."

Over 225 people poured into the Minnesota State Community & Technical College main meeting room, filling it until people had difficultly finding a place to sit. People of all ages, from teens to the elderly, searched for their precinct and then what table hosted their township or ward.

Several people shook hands and met for the first time the men and women that resided in their same area of the county. Teens grabbed forms to register to vote for their first time.

People came out in force this year -- a year of change, as the candidates would say. Becker County Republican Party Chairman Peter Balega told the crowd it was an "extraordinarily significant" event this year, and the numbers proved it.

"There's a large turnout be-cause of the interest in the presidential election. They want to voice their opinion," Moberg said.

One organizer said about 90 percent of the people at the Detroit Lakes Republican caucus site were first-timers.

In the Becker County Republicans' opinion, Huckabee took first with 108 votes, followed closely by Mitt Romney with 101. Sen. John McCain came in with 82 votes, Ron Paul with 35, Allan Keyes with 6 and Newt Gingrich with 1. There was a total of 333 votes cast in Becker County.

"The real purpose is to get people involved at the grassroots level," Moberg said.

In the statewide polls, the winner was Romney, but McCain was the front runner in the total Super Tuesday caucuses.

Also during the Republican caucus, precincts elected delegates and alternates for the March 1 Republican convention, where delegates and alternates will be elected to attend the seventh district convention to be held in April in Moorhead.

The local convention is being held at 9 a.m. in the Minnesota State Community & Technical College.

With the caucus bringing out hundreds of people, which is "almost unheard of," Moberg said, November elections are likely to bring record numbers as well.