Rep. John Anderson, outpolling former California govenor Ronald Regan in some counties, came in a strong and surprising second in Tuesday night's Washington Republican state precinct caucuses.
The Anderson showing, based on a personal campaign of less than seven hours last Saturday and an expenditure of about $10,000, made it clear that the West is no longer Reagan's for the casual taking.
The Illinois Republican was close to victory in two congressional districts in metropolitan Seattle and he also won or came in a close second in some rural Washington counties. Anderson won a straw poll in Kitsap County across Puget Sound from Seattle, 546 to Reagan's 462, with George Bush and Gerald Ford trailing.
No complete statewide fugures will be available from the Republican caucuses for some time, but party officials and Reagan and Anderson representatives said Reagan's precinct candidates had received the most votes, with Anderson's second, Bush's third and Ford's right behind him.
A sampling of precinnct caucuses also showed that the Republicans had drawn from two to four times as many voters as in the past.
This state's curious and cumbersome presidential delegate-selection process may still see the Reagan forces win control of the vast majority of the 37 national committee delegates. However, Anderson's strong showing shook the party's regulars.
Dale DuVall, Spokane accountant and Washington state Reagan chairman, took 14 Regan voters to his Spokane caucus, which saw only seven voters turn out in 1976. The precinct, where a total of 34 voters showed up Tuesday night, split two delegates for Anderson, two for Reagan and one for Bush.
In Seattle, a flood of independents and Democrats stormed Republican pecincts and took them over. At one school in the city's university district 28 precincts held their caucuses and 27 voted for Anderson.
On the wealthy shores of Lake Washington, Gretchen Boeng of the Boeing aircraft family hosted four Reubliican precincts. She was rooting for Bush while her father, Bill Boeing, supported Reagan. The precincts voted three for Anderson, one for Bush.
"Three of the Republicans we've nominated are Democracts," complained one party stalwart.
In Bill Boeing's own precinct, two delegates elected said they would not vote for Reagan if he were nominated by the Republicans.
Anderson, on his brief trip to Seattly Saturday, said he hopes to challenge Reagan in Oregon and California. He noted a cross-registration effort had already been started in California.
The Andeson drive got a boost on Tuesday morning when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the state's largest morning daily, endorsed Anderson as a "man for all reasons," saying Reagan was "unelectable" and "has not grown a whit in 20 years," while Ford "has been playing golf for four years and should keep at it until he gets it right."