AUBURN — More than 100 Democrats throughout the Twin Cities came out to support President Barack Obama during Sunday's nonbinding caucus.
"This is grassroots. In here people have an opportunity to express their opinions," Ed Desgrosseilliers, committee chairman of the Auburn Democrats, said. "It's gathering together, touching base and reacquainting ourselves with one another."
On Sunday, 52 Democrats from Auburn met at Auburn Middle School for nearly three hours to hear from potential local candidates and make their voices heard in support of Obama. Desgrosseilliers said 50 of those in attendance voted to support Obama's bid for re-election, while one person abstained and one voted uncommitted.
About the same number of Democrats turned out for the Lewiston caucus and overwhelmingly supported Obama, according to Lizzy Reinholt, a spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party. She declined to release the official breakdown until the final votes are certified and released in March.
Desgrosseilliers said he was a little disappointed with Sunday's low turnout but appreciated the chance to hear people's views and opinions during the caucus. His wife, Shelia, added that the annual caucus gives people a chance to hear from local candidates and get excited about the upcoming June primary.
"We need you to stand by our president," Maine's Democratic National Committeeman Sam Spencer said. "The president is relying on the people in this room to get the truth out."
Spencer joked with Lewiston caucus attendees that the best thing about the Maine Democratic caucuses was that all votes were actually counted, a reference to the recent flap over uncounted Republican caucus votes from Washington County.
"Essentially, we're here to show our support for our president, even though it isn't a contested race like in 2008," Tom Reynolds, chairman of the Androscoggin Democratic Committee, said. "It's also a forum for other candidates to speak."
In addition to casting their votes for president, attendees in both cities also heard directly from present office holders, such as U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who attended Auburn's caucus, and candidates or representatives for those seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe in the general election this fall.
At this point, at least five candidates will run in the state's June primary for the chance to challenge Maine's senior senator.