KAPAA — Ten minutes after the voting opened at the presidential Republican caucus on Tuesday, a line wrapped around the foyer of the Kapaa Neighborhood Center.
The excitement was palatable, as about 100 people chatted about the pros and cons of the GOP candidates — as well as those on the other side of the aisle.
“I’m not voting for Hillary because I’m a Christian,” proclaimed John Means of Kapaa. “I’ll be voting for Trump because he’s not in anybody’s pocket.”
Means said there were other viable candidates, like Ben Carson, who dropped out.
“They picked the wrong year to run,” Means said. “This is Trump’s year.”
Businessman Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are still seeking the Republican nomination.
The Kapaa poll was one of 45 statewide locations that opened at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and closed at 8 p.m.
There are 19 delegates up for grabs to help determine which Republican will face the Democrat presidential candidate in the general election. The Democratic caucus is March 26.
Kauai locations were in Princeville, Lihue, Kalaheo and Waimea. Each site was active with folks who arrived early and debated which candidates.
Katie Els, also from Kapaa, said she finds Trump offensive and he definitely won’t be getting her vote.
“I’m conservative and Cruz is conservative, I’ll be voting for him,” Els said. “Trump will just offend our allies and our enemies. We don’t need him in office.”
Patrick and Lesa McCluskey, from Kapaa, said they’re also on the Cruz wagon.
“We’re constitutionalists and we need to get things back to the way things should be,” Patrick said.
Lesa added that everyone else “just needs to get out of the race.”
Steve and Jude France said they’re torn between Cruz and Marco Rubio.
“Cruz is going to get more votes, but I really like Rubio,” Jude said. “I would love to see a Cruz/Rubio ticket. That’d be awesome. I’d vote for that.”
Jessica Launder, from Kapaa, agreed, saying that she’d support a Cruz/Rubio ticket, but her attention is focused on Cruz because of his faith.
“It’s his Christian base,” Launder said.
Means continued, saying people are “scared of Trump, because they can’t control him.”
Republicans across the country are anticipating — and reporting — a rise in poll attendance this year, and Means said he thinks it’s because of Trump’s bid for the presidency.
“He’s well-known and he gets attention,” Means said.
To participate in the Republican caucus, people had to be registered to vote and had to sign a membership card to join the Republican Party. There were no speeches or debates — voters simply voted for their favorite candidate, dropped it in a clear box, and left.
“I’m proud to be part of this caucus,” Jude France said. “It’s a sounding board for the candidates and I’m proud to be part of history.”
Votes were being counted after TGI’s deadline. Results will be published on thegardenisland.com and Thursday’s print edition of TGI.