Thursday, January 17, 2008

How to become a delegate

How California Delegates Are Selected for the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Forms Now Available to Run

By Frank D. Russo

Many of the articles written about the California Democratic Presidential primary focus on the horse race of the statewide popular vote, and by the time the ink is dry on this article there will probably be another poll and more prognostications as to who the likely winner is going to be when the votes are counted February 5.

While the statewide vote will provide a candidate with “momentum” and a victory, what is lost with this focus is that we are electing delegates to the Democratic National Convention—and that the bulk of the action here takes place locally, in each of our state’s 53 Congressional Districts. 241 of California’s 441 delegates are elected based on the share of the vote the candidates for President receive in those districts. Only 81 delegates are elected “at-large” and go to the winner of the statewide vote.

The remaining 119 delegates are selected (not elected). These include 66 “super delegates” (Members of Congress, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members, and a former DNC Chair). Also 48 Pledged Party Leaders / Elected Officials (PLEOs) committed to candidates who receive at least 15% of the statewide vote and apportioned by their share of the vote. Another 5 are also appointed who are “unpledged” to any candidate.

A few readers have written in, asking how one enters the process to become a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which will not only nominate candidates for President and Vice President, but also adopt the Party’s platform. Now that forms are available through the California Democratic Party (CDP) website to run as a Congressional District delegate, here are some of the rules and suggestions on how to apply and perhaps be part of history as a delegate or alternate at the August 25-28, 2008 Denver, Colorado convention. The CDP has more information on this process on their site and will begin listing those who have applied in each Congressional District.

Eric Bauman, Chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, has written an excellent article on this as well.

California will send the largest delegation--441 delegates and 62 alternates to the convention-- split as evenly as possible between men and women.

While independent (Decline to State) voters may vote in the Democratic primary, to run you must be a registered Democrat and know your congressional district. You must file the form by April 2, 2008. When completing your form you must pledge your support for one presidential candidate. Should your chosen candidate drop out of the presidential race prior to this deadline, you have the option of filing a new form and pledging your support to one of the remaining candidates. You may run to be a delegate if you will turn 18 on or before November 4, 2008.

Filing of this form is not considered officially “complete” until the signed form is received by the CDP by either fax or mail. If sent by mail, it must be postmarked by April 2, 2008.

There will be 3 to 7 delegates allocated in each of California’s 53 Congressional Districts (CDs).
In addition, 40 CDs will each get 1 Alternate. Delegates are allocated to each Presidential candidate who receives 15% or more of the vote in any CD on February 5, 2008.

Caucuses, open only to registered Democrats, to choose district-level delegates will be held on April 13, 2008 by each such presidential campaign in each of California’s 53 CDs. Candidates running as district-level delegates will be notified by email of additional information they may need to know, such as the April 13 caucus sites and voting information.

The key to winning one of these prized Congressional District slots is to get as many of your friends and supporters to the caucus to vote for you and to persuade some of the others at the caucus with a combination of some of these: A warm smile, enthusiastic attitude, a good short speech (one minute, if memory serves me), a flyer, and joining with other candidates to run on a slate.
On May 18, 2008, there will be a delegate confirmation meeting where the 241 Congressional District level delegates will meet and confirm the 48 PLEOs, 81 at-large, and 5 “uncommitted” delegates and the 22 statewide alternates.

At-Large delegates and PLEOs file to be selected (by the Presidential candididates) between February11 and April 23.

The Delegation will also confirm 51 National Standing Committee members (17 to serve on the credentials committee, 17 on the platform committee, and 17on the rules committee). The Delegation Co-Chairs will also be confirmed.

You’ll have to pay your own way to the convention—getting there and meals and lodging--or take up collection. It’s exciting to be part of a large assemblage of Democrats from across the country, and well worth it if you are given the chance.

Posted on January 17, 2008

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