Dallas Morning News: Obama handily
wins Dallas County district conventions
Dividing delegates: Texas’ 3-step process
THE FOLLOWING shows results from Saturday’s county and Senate district conventions, the second step of a three-step process to allocate one-third of Texas’ delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
The process in
Texas Democrats allocate their convention delegates in two ways:
– 126 were determined by the popular vote in the March 4 primary in state Senate districts. Hillary Clinton won 65 delegates; Barack Obama got 61.
– 67 are determined by conventions, held at the precinct, county/Senate district, and state levels.
Saturday’s results were to select about 7,300 delegates to the state convention in June in Austin, where the final delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be chosen.
If Mr. Obama’s lead from the initial precinct conventions holds, he would do well enough to take more delegates from Texas, despite Mrs. Clinton’s overall primary vote victory.
Obama 57%, Clinton 43%
(36% of about 7,300 delegates selected)
Senate District 2 – Obama 73%, Clinton 27%
Senate District 8 – Obama 59%, Clinton 41%
Senate District 9 – Obama 61%, Clinton 39%
Senate District 16 – Obama 59%, Clinton 41%
Senate District 23 – Obama 82%, Clinton 18%
D E L E G A T E T O T A L S
Where the candidates stand in the race for the Democratic nomination nationwide, according to an Associated Press estimate:
OBAMA 1,623 : CLINTON: 1.499
Needed to win nomination: 2,024
DEMOCRATS in Texas are holding county conventions Saturday including this one in Travis County. (AP)
By GROMER JEFFERS/Dallas Morning News
w/ reports from DMN Staff writers Karen Brooks,
Rudolph Bush, Dave Levinthal, Bruce Tomaso
Sunday, 30 March 2008
BARACK Obama cruised to victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton in Dallas County’s Senate district conventions Saturday, as Texas Democrats continued their arduous and sometimes frustrating process of choosing national convention delegates.
Mr. Obama had double-digit leads in all five of the county’s Senate districts, mirroring his electoral power here in the March 4 primary. Statewide, the picture was less certain, though Mr. Obama started the day with a caucusing advantage because he won the first round, precinct conventions held the night of the primary.
That may mean he can win more overall delegates in Texas even though Mrs. Clinton won the initial primary vote, as Mr. Obama’s campaign claimed in a triumphant statement late Saturday.
The Clinton campaign scoffed at that and predicted a strong showing once all the results were counted.
The packed conventions cemented for some that the “two-step” system of having caucuses after a primary vote is probably not suited for such a large state.
Thousands of Texans spent hours in school gyms and other venues Saturday, arguing at length about credentials and other matters – all for a handful of delegates among thousands to the convention that will nominate either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton for president.
Delegates alternated between boredom and frustration. At one district, police were summoned to keep the proceedings calm.
Many Democrats, though, saw great benefits for the party – particularly in the unprecedented numbers of participants.
“What you have is people who are energized by the process,” said state Sen. Royce West, who led the convention in his 23rd District and at one point called the process a “nightmare.”
“Ninety percent of our convention had first-time delegates. We are developing a farm system,” he said.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie described the scene as “democracy at its finest.” Visiting conventions in Dallas and Tarrant counties with his wife, Betty, he said he was floored by the amount of engagement – particularly newcomers.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. If voters are this determined to be involved, he said, “November looks really good for us.”
The delegates elected by Texas Democrats on Saturday are headed to the state party convention in June in Austin. There, 67 delegates will be selected to attend the national convention, in addition to those apportioned by the results of the primary.
Republicans also held county conventions, though only to select individual delegates, not to apportion them to candidates. Republican leaders have said they’re confident likely GOP nominee John McCain will easily carry the state this fall.
‘This is crazy’
With tens of thousands of participants, Saturday’s conventions were expected to be chaotic – and they were.
The District 23 convention, one of the largest in the state, was stalled for hours because the credentials of thousands of delegates were either challenged or could not immediately be verified.
The tedious process included numerous precincts redoing the caucuses held March 4, an act repeated across the state.
“This is crazy,” said Deanna Hammond, who was elected delegate at her precinct March 4 and didn’t know why her credentials were challenged. “I’m going home and going to bed.”
Clinton supporters prompted most of the disputes. Some would-be delegates were simply confused and complained that the Obama or Clinton campaigns told them to show up.
The process allows for some political maneuvering, and the campaigns were thought to be looking for any advantage in an extraordinarily close race.
At the District 16 convention at SMU’s Moody Coliseum, Nita Hooper and other delegates from her Garland precinct had to wait hours in line to have their credentials verified.
“We finally got signed in, but we’re still missing some people. We don’t know where they are,” she said.
A weary Mr. West conceded that the process had flaws. In his convention, a computer system went down, a woman fainted and it was discovered that the delegates from some precincts were never recorded into the system.
“It’s a nightmare,” he said at one point. “The system wasn’t designed for all these people. The process is a nightmare.”
The senator – the only Democrat in the Dallas-area delegation – said he would seek changes when the Legislature meets next year. But he said he was happy with the turnout and the display of democracy.
Despite the confusion, delegates were not unruly, though extra police were called to the credentials committee when tempers ran hot.
For some, tedium and discomfort were the real problems. At the District 8 convention at Thomas Jefferson High School in northwest Dallas, participants waited in long lines or sat on uncushioned wooden chairs in a stuffy high school auditorium, where they talked and caucused and voted and talked some more.
Lunch was hot dogs and hamburgers, and the line to get those was long, too.
It was hardly most folks’ idea of fun on a Saturday. But Bob Franklin, a precinct chair from North Dallas who served on the resolutions committee for the district convention, said there’s no place he’d rather have been.
“I had a heck of a lot of fun,” he said, grinning broadly at the end of the long day.
Extraordinary turnout was the theme countywide. In District 2 in southeastern Dallas, about 1,400 people attended – compared with about 150 in years past, said Steve Tillery, the convention chairman and executive director of the Dallas County Democratic Party.
“It shows you what can happen when you have two dynamic candidates running for president,” Mr. Tillery said.
Party leaders sought to keep the machinery running and remind the crowd that, in the end, they’re on the same side as Democrats.
“It’s like asking if I like peanut butter and jelly or jelly and peanut butter,” said Dan Woolery, a precinct chairman attending the District 9 convention at South Grand Prairie High School.