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Don't forget to vote on Feb. 12

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By John Barnhart

I don't know what the results of Super-Duper-Ohm'gosh! Tuesday will be as I write this. We go to press on Tuesday afternoon and folks are still voting around the country as we transmit our pages to Roanoke. Nevertheless, I will hazard a prediction: nobody will come out of the Feb. 5 slate of primaries with a headlock on their party's nomination. This means you really ought to vote in Virginia's presidential primaries.

Virginia's "Democratic" and Republican primaries will take place next Tuesday, Feb. 12. I expect both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to still be viable candidates by that time. On the Republican side, I expect both John McCain and Mitt Romney to be viable. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul will still be in the race.

Tuesday's primaries will be open to all registered voters. You don't have to be a party member to vote, although you will have to chose which primary you want to vote in. You can't vote in both. You won't be required to sign a political party loyalty oath.

Voting takes place at your normal polling place for November elections. The polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

The Republican primary is a winner-take-all primary. Whoever wins will get 63 delegates to the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., in September.

The "Democratic" primary is not a winner-take-all affair. Any candidate who gets at least 15 percent of the vote will get some delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo. Each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts will elect between four and seven national delegate, plus one alternate. A "Democratic" party state convention will choose an additional 31 delegates, plus three alternates. In addition there are party leaders and certain elected officials, such as Governor Tim Kaine, who will automatically be delegates by virtue of their offices. There are 18 of them.

All of the candidates have Web sites:

Congressman Ron Paul, www.ronpaul2008.com;

Senator John McCain, www.johnmccain.com;

Gov. Mike Huckabee, www.mikehuckabee.com;

Gov. Mitt Romney, www.mittromney.com;

Senator Hillary Clinton, www.hilaryclinton.com; and

Senator Barack Obama, www.barackobama.com.

The presidential race is now much more interesting than it was last fall. Five months ago, the "Democratic" primary process looked like it would be a coronation march for Clinton. The Republicans, in turn, looked like they were going to nominate something they found under a wet rock.

The queen, however, took a pratfall at the beginning of the march and it has been a bare-knuckle fight between her and Obama ever since. On the Republican side, Huckabee seemed to come out of nowhere to win Iowa and, although he hasn't won since, still remains a force. McCain, who looked like political road kill last summer, pulled his campaign back together, won New Hampshire, and has emerged as the party's front runner.

Of course, I'll vote on Feb. 12. I won't be voting in the "Democrat's" primary as both Clinton and Obama are liberals. I'm a conservative, so I certainly don't want to see a liberal elected president. I'll vote in the Republican primary and plan to vote for McCain as I think he provides the best chance to put a conservative in the White House.

I know that McCain takes some Republican heat over some of the things he's done in the Senate. There's a few things that he's done in the Senate that I've not been happy about. But, I know I'll never find the perfect candidate—one who always agrees with me and McCain is a conservative. He's pro-life, and he's not a convert of political convenience to that stance. Although he didn't support the federal marriage amendment, he is not a proponent of the homosexual agenda. He's also strong on defense.

Of course, some of you may actually want a liberal in the White House. If you do, then you ought to vote in the "Democratic" primary. I just hope your candidate looses in November.