Voters in the three Western states supporting either Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said important issues to decide on include war, the ability to compromise and honesty.
Here’s what some of them had to say:
Preston Anderson works at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Seattle. Before taking that job, he was deployed to Iraq for 11 months as a sergeant in the Army.
He went to a Seattle high school to caucus for Sanders. Clinton and other hawkish politicians rushed into the war in Iraq, Anderson said. Sanders wants fewer wars, and that appeals to Anderson.
“It’s no light decision to send troops into harm’s way, so it definitely has to be a more measured response.” the 36-year-old Anderson said.
Dixie Hood, 82, of Juneau, Alaska, says her decision to support Clinton was a clear choice.
“Her experience and her pragmatism just totally outshine Bernie’s dreams,” she said, decked out in a blue Clinton T-shirt on the floor of a convention center where local caucuses were being held Saturday.
Both have similar goals, she said, but Hood doesn’t see in Sanders a willingness to compromise. Sanders has made the race exciting, though, she said.
Hood, a marriage and family therapist, said she’s been an active Democrat her entire life. If Clinton wins the nomination, it would be meaningful if Sanders got behind her, Hood said.
Richard Shields, 63, and his husband, Kaipo Sasan, 52, were at Kawananakoa Middle School in Honolulu to support Clinton.
Shields, a pharmacist, said Clinton is the most electable candidate and has the kind of talents America needs.
“I think that she has what we need as a country to basically put to rest the kind opposition that we’re finding from the Republican Party,” Shields said.
Shields also said he thinks Clinton should work with Sanders if she is elected.
“I have an enormous respect for Bernie Sanders, and I’m hoping that Hillary is going to listen to Bernie after the election,” Shields said. “But I think Hillary is the one.”
This election has been full of firsts for Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs, who caucused for Sanders in Juneau, Alaska.
The 38-year-old state worker said she had never donated to or gone canvassing for a candidate before Sanders. Saturday was her first caucus.
“This is the first time I’ve ever felt that kind of belief in a candidate, that they mean what they say and that they are not saying what they think people want to hear,” said Hughes-Skandijs, who also sported a Sanders’ T-shirt.
She also believes Sanders would be more “mud-proof” than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. If Sanders isn’t the party nominee, she said, she’ll likely vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Some of the Republican candidates are “so ridiculous, I kind of have a hard time believing that whoever gets put up against them isn’t going to win,” Hughes-Skandijs said.
Dennis McCarville, 63, was taking part in his first-ever caucus. He moved in 2012 to Anchorage, Alaska, from Omaha, Nebraska, where he only took part in primary votes.
“This is my first caucus, so I don’t know what to expect,” he said in the hallway at Anchorage West High School, where all caucus events were held for Democrats in Alaska’s largest city.
McCarville supports Hillary Clinton, saying she has the experience to be president.
“I believe in what her social policies are, as well as her foreign policy,” McCarville said. “She has the qualifications we need to have as president.”
But McCarville, who runs a treatment center for children, said he could support Sanders if he winds up being the party’s nominee.
“Oh yeah, they’re not that far off,” he said. “I just think Hillary has got more experience in leadership.”
Shannon McDermott, 25, of Anchorage, said she supports Sanders because “he is all for Native sovereignty.”
“I support Bernie Sanders because he is meeting with tribes all across the United States,” said McDermott, an Inupiat Eskimo. “All the issues, he wants to hear from the community before he even makes a decision.”
The certified nursing assistant at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage said she feels this is the first time a candidate is recognizing tribal issues from the start. She felt like President Obama, who became the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle when he met Alaska Natives in Kotzebue, Alaska, last August, only turned his attention to Alaska Natives late in his second term.
“It’s just refreshing to see somebody do that from the get-go,” she said.
She was also impressed that Sanders’ wife, Jane, spent three days campaigning in Alaska this week.
“It’s really great to see his wife come up and speak to us,” she said. “Because nobody comes to Alaska. It’s pretty great.”
Bryan Lukashevsky, 68, of Honolulu, voted for Sanders because he thinks the Vermont senator stands for the average American.
“I thinks he’s pretty much our last gasp of freedom,” Lukashevsky said. “We’ve had everything eroded away so terribly in the past few years, even under Obama.”
Lukashevsky, the father of two grown daughters, one of whom was just married to a military man in Hawaii, did not vote for Obama in the last election, he said.
“I hate lying, and they all lie,” he said. “In my opinion, the only guy that’s standing up for us, the average person, or even everybody, is Bernie Sanders.”
Lukashevsky voted at Kawananakoa Middle School in Honolulu. Retired from the film and television industry, he has been living in Hawaii since 1975.
Bill Lui-Kwan, a Honolulu resident who described himself as semi-retired, showed up around noon — an hour early — to vote, but was waiting at the back of a long line at 2 p.m., nearly an hour after voting began.
Like many people throughout the Hawaiian islands, he was at a polling station that didn’t have clear signs or directions about how to check in or where to stand in line.
“I’m just disappointed in the disorganization,” Lui-Kwan said. “You should encourage people to come out and vote.”
Christopher Evans, 48, said he believes the planet is at a crucial juncture in terms of species survival, and he thinks Sanders is more likely to address environmental problems.
“We’ve got to turn this around, and the corporate machine isn’t going to do that for us,” Evans said. “I’m here to vote for Bernie, and not for the corporate machine.”
Evans, a carpenter who lives in Honolulu, also appreciates Sanders’ positions on military intervention. “A vote for Bernie is a vote for peace and away from war,” he said.
Ernie Hong, 62, a retired clerical worker, said he thinks Clinton would do a better job negotiating and making peace with different factions in politics.
“I know she’s not my perfect candidate that will represent everything that I would like, but she represents quite a few things that I do vote for in a candidate, which is experience, know-how, how to work with Congress, how to work with the system, and especially the ability to find common ground with our parties,” Hong said.
Associated Press writers Walker Orenstein in Seattle, Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington, Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, and Caleb Jones and Cathy Bussewitz in Honolulu contributed to this report.