Gore the clear DemBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
winner in precinct
Like the overwhelming majority of registered Democrats at precinct caucus meetings across the state, Al Lardizabal of Moiliili checked off Vice President Al Gore's name on a ballot he dropped in a brown paper bag.
"I like the man's integrity and his willingness to help the common folk," said Lardizabal, as he and other party members in the 20th district neared the end of their meeting at Washington Intermediate School last night.
As of this morning, Gore had picked up five of the six First Congressional District delegates being contested, with all 26 districts accounted for. Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley received the sixth delegate seat.
It appeared that Gore would also capture most, if not all, of the eight other delegate slots to be determined last night. How they will be apportioned was less clear, however, because a majority of the rural Oahu and Neighbor Island districts had not yet reported results. Technically, they have 48 hours.
It didn't seem to matter much to Lardizabal that results from primary elections and caucuses held on the mainland earlier yesterday -- Super Tuesday -- already had given Gore a lead so commanding that there were probably few national observers staying up to see Hawaii's results.
Participating in a caucus is important because "I want my kind of leader leading this nation," he said.
"If you want to be heard, you have to come out and participate," said Cindy Apana, another District 20 Democrat. Apana said she voted for Gore because of his emphasis on family values.
Bradley supporter Jim Becker of District 22 said he thinks his candidate may have received additional votes if a Hawaii election had been held earlier.
Gov. Ben Cayetano and wife Vicki showed up at Washington only to be told that Washington Place falls under a district whose members were meeting in Nuuanu.
Later, at Democratic Party headquarters on Ward Avenue, party leaders were pondering the significance of last night's balloting. Much of the talk centered on whether Bradley would win any Hawaii delegate seats.
Bradley supporters had said earlier that they were hoping to get as many delegates as Gore. Gore supporters were hoping to shut out Bradley.
By midnight, it seemed more and more likely that Bradley would get his one delegate. Bradley had won only one precinct, District 21 consisting of the Waikiki-Ala Wai area, but managed to get more than the 15 percent overall in the First Congressional District, to pick up one delegate.
It was also time to be graceful and mend fences.
"Tell me where to sign up," said Councilman Duke Bainum, a Bradley backer, to Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, a Gore campaign official, as they shook hands at party headquarters.
Bainum said he thinks that even if Bradley isn't the Democratic nominee, his position on education, health care and campaign spending reform, and other issues are now on the party's radar and "will be with us."
Hirono said Gore benefited from the fact that Hawaii Democrats are familiar with him and his positions on issues. She noted that Gore helped support local Democrats during a trip two years ago.
While last night's decision will choose how 14 delegate seats will be apportioned, 19 others will go to top elected officials and party leaders. Most are likely to vote for Gore at the national convention this summer.