PORTLAND — Maine Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for a double-shot of presidential caucuses but Super Tuesday primaries could play a role in who’s left on the ballot by the time Maine’s voters gather.

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are virtually assured of staying in the race, but Super Tuesday could claim some of the Republicans trying to catch up to front-runner Donald Trump. Also in the GOP race are Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Party activists are eager to voice their opinions, regardless of what happens Tuesday.

Lael Jepson has lived in Portland for more than 20 years, but she’s going to be attending her first Democratic caucuses this weekend to show support for Clinton.

“I’m totally fired up about the election,” said Jepson, who’s bringing her son, who’s met Clinton, to the Portland caucuses. “It’s a monumental year in so many ways.”

Both parties say voters are enthusiastic, but Republican Beth Wallinga of Old Town said caucusing is about doing one’s duty, whether or not there’s enthusiasm and excitement.


“A lot of people have an opinion, but unless they show up to caucus, their opinion doesn’t have any effect,” said Wallinga, who supports Cruz.

Republicans will caucus at 22 regional locations across the state on Saturday. Democrats will gather a day later in more than 400 towns.

The GOP will be casting tallies via secret ballot, while Democrats will keep with tradition of having supporters of each candidate gather in groups in a public show of support before a head count.

The GOP outcome will be binding on delegates. Any candidate who wins a majority gets all of them; if no one reaches 50 percent, then the 23 delegates will be divided among candidates receiving 10 percent or more of the vote, said Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett.

The GOP rules were changed to prevent a repeat from four years ago, when Ron Paul supporters objected to Mitt Romney being declared the winner and caused an uproar by taking over the state party convention, electing a slate of Paul supporters to go to the national convention in Florida.

Democrats are playing by different rules.


They will be caucusing to select delegates to the state convention, where 25 delegates to the national convention will be selected to join five superdelegates. More than 12,000 voters have requested absentee ballots, underscoring strong interest, said Jeremy Kennedy, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party.

Sanders and Clinton both have strong support, have visited Maine and have offices in the state. But none of the Republican candidates have offices or formal organizations here.

Maine voters who are accustomed to playing second fiddle to neighboring New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary tend to reward candidates who show up to campaign, and it’s possible that one or more candidates could make a stop in Maine before the weekend, party officials say.

Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine, said Maine’s caucuses provide a more intimate way for party members to discuss candidates.

“You go to a relatively small space with your fellow citizens and try to persuade them which way to vote, which is classic politics,” he said.

Jepson, for her part, said she’s confident that the nation’s voters will choose someone who can bring people together in an election year in which candidates and voters seem to be more polarized than ever.

“I have faith in humanity,” she said. “I have this freakish thing where I believe in the people of this country, against all odds.”

Where and when will you caucus? The list of Democratic, Green and Republican caucuses this weekend.

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