BEMIDJI-Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the top presidential candidate for Beltrami County Republican voters Tuesday, taking the lead over Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and businessman Donald Trump.
In total, a record 989 registered GOP caucus voters participated in Super Tuesday in the county and 378 chose Cruz as their candidate, giving the senator 38 percent of the vote. In second place was Rubio with 256 votes (26 percent) and Trump finished third with 220 votes at 22 percent.
Other candidates receiving votes at the county caucuses were former neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 91 votes (9 percent) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 32 votes, or 3 percent. There also were four write-in votes.
The number of GOP voters Tuesday in Beltrami County easily topped the previous mark of 609 set in 2008.
During the caucus at Bemidji High School, Beltrami County Republican Chairman Ken Cobb said he had been getting calls all day Tuesday from people who had never been to a caucus.
"It's obvious that there's a big interest this year, we may even set some records," Cobb said. "I think people realize that the future of our nation is at stake and I think a lot of people are concerned about Hillary (Clinton) being our next president. People want to make sure that their party and country thrive."
Regarding the influence the night has on politics, Cobb said, "I just think it's important to get involved and caucuses are about getting involved at that grass roots level."
The numbers from each of the four Beltrami Republican locations were:
• Bemidji High School Commons-Cruz, 378; Rubio, 233; Trump, 176; Kasich, 26; Carson, 73.
• Blackduck High School-Cruz, 57; Trump, 32; Rubio, 12; Carson, 14; Kasich, 6.
• Kelliher High School-Rubio, 11; Trump, 9; Carson, 4; Cruz, 3.
• Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Grygla-Trump, 3, Cruz, 2.
Minnesota was one of 14 states holding either GOP caucuses or primaries Tuesday. Just after 10:15 p.m., Rubio was declared the winner in Minnesota. Trump had won the majority of states that were voting, with Cruz taking his home state of Texas and Oklahoma.
The next step for the Republican primary will be Saturday with caucuses in Kansas, Kentucky and Maine and a primary in Louisiana.