County Republicans favor Cruz in precinct caucuses

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Goodhue County voters showed strong support Tuesday night for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, bucking statewide caucus results that gave Florida Sen. Marco Rubio his first win of the presidential primary season.

Cruz came away with 359 straw poll votes from nearly a thousand county residents who attended Republican caucuses March 1 for Super Tuesday, according to totals posted on the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

Rubio finished second in Goodhue County with 279 votes, while Donald Trump — the national frontrunner for the party’s nomination — finished third with 219 votes.

Dr. Ben Carson received 68 votes and Ohio Gov. John Kasich received 60 votes Tuesday in Goodhue County. There also were four write-ins.

The results in Red Wing were 130 votes for Rubio, 94 for Cruz and 75 for Trump. Kasich trailed with 39 votes and Carson with 28.

“It was a full room,” site captain Teresa Whitson said, adding tables in the Red Wing High School cafeteria had to be shuffled around to accommodate the more than 350 people in attendance.

“We had been told to anticipate a big turnout,” she said. “It might have been double what our normal turnout is.”

Whitson, financial chair of the Goodhue County Republicans, said she suspects the GOP caucuses attracted independent voters who felt the DFL candidates were not a good fit.

Mike Goggin of Red Wing, running for the state District 21 Senate seat, thanked caucus-goers for coming out to support conservative candidates.

“This really shows how energized everybody is to make a difference and make change in our nation,” Goggin said, adding his campaign is focused on lowering taxes and helping businesses become more competitive.

Lisa Howe, wife of 2nd Congressional District candidate John Howe, also spoke on her husband’s behalf, including his commitments to a strong a military and looking out for veterans.

“We know the importance and sacrifice of our veterans and we know that we have to take care of them,” she said.

Rubio took more than 36 percent of the statewide presidential preference vote Tuesday among Republicans, finishing ahead of Cruz with around 29 percent and Trump with just over 21 percent.

Local DFL caucuses mirrored statewide results with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders coming out on top.