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by Stephen Freese

Co-ops and Caucuses

Last month I talked about how your vote—which always matters—can make an especially big difference in a close election. I’d like to follow that up with the most vivid example so far this year, in the presidential race at the Iowa Caucus. 

This year’s caucus will go down in history as one of the closest ever. According to the Associated Press, among Iowa’s 1,681 precincts Hillary Clinton received 49.9 percent of the vote and was awarded 23 delegates, while Bernie Sanders received 49.6 percent of the vote and 21 delegates, for a difference of one-third of a percentage point and two delegates. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz received 27.7 percent of the vote and eight delegates: Donald Trump received 24.3 percent of the vote and seven delegates, and Marco Rubio received 23.1 percent and seven delegates. The difference between Cruz in first place and Rubio in third was one delegate, showing just how important each individual vote can be. When all the primaries are finished throughout the states we may well be surprised how important that two-delegate win by former Secretary Clinton, or the one-delegate win by Senator Cruz, might be in securing nomination. The one thing that’s looking clearer is this year Wisconsin’s April 5th primary can still have an effect on the two parties’ nominations.

While the race was unfolding at town halls and dinners across Iowa, a cooperative grassroots campaign called Iowa Rural Power was underway. Its goal was to establish positive relationships with the candidates before the ultimate winner takes office. Wearing green Rural Power T-shirts, grassroots co-op representatives were informing and educating presidential candidates regarding issues that are important to electric co-ops and their member–owners. In the run-up to Iowa’s unique “first in the nation” presidential caucuses, Iowa Rural Power representatives were able to ask presidential candidates directly about their plans to ensure affordable and reliable electricity in the years ahead with this question: “What is your plan to ensure safe, affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electricity?” Though only one candidate will ultimately become the next president, many of those running may move on to cabinet posts or other influential positions in government, and hopefully this grassroots effort will have given them an understanding of electric cooperatives and their unique challenges.  

At this link,, you can find a voter guide to all the presidential candidates and where they stand on issues that affect your electric cooperative. If Wisconsin becomes a battleground state as we have been in the past, you might see a Wisconsin rural power green shirt campaign to remind the candidates about issues that are important to ensure affordable and reliable electricity in rural America. We won’t advocate for any individual candidate; our goal is simply to get the candidates to articulate where they stand on our issues. Stay tuned. We may be asking for your help this fall.



z© Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association