Monday, April 14, 2008

Local Democrats choose delegates


Hundreds of local Democrats sacrificed a few hours of sunny weather yesterday to participate in the time-honored process of selecting the few local delegates to represent the 23rd congressional district at the Democratic National Convention later this year.
Hillary Clinton supporters gathered at the Santa Barbara Highlands condo complex to cast their vote while Barack Obama fans flocked to the Dos Pueblos High School gym and selected their delegates.

“This is it, democracy in action,” said Stewart Holden, a local attorney and the Clinton caucus convenor.
Nearby, dozens of local citizens streamed through the doors to pick up a ballot and cast their vote for one woman and one man from a field of 12 seeking the two available delegate spots, Clinton’s slice of the local district primary vote.
At Dos Pueblos High School, hundreds poured into the gym, many mingling with the candidates and talking politics. Voters ultimately picked two men and one woman, along with a woman alternate, to represent the Obama vote at the national convention.
“The response has been much more than expected,” said Frank Christopher, local team leader for the Obama campaign and convenor of the Obama delegate caucus.
At the Obama site, 485 people voted in the caucus. Ultimately, Tim Allison, Mike Getto, Sherry Holland and Maricela Morales (alternate) prevailed out of a field of 18 men and eight women.
Many credited the large crowd of participants to Obama’s bond with voters.
“I am completely fired up and so ready to go, just by seeing this turnout,” Holland said.
Others, such as Allison, focused on Obama’s campaign message of change.
“I’m inspired by Barack Obama,” Allison said. “It’s time we have a president we can be proud of again.”
Participants spotted at the Obama event included Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and City Councilmember Das Williams, as well as former City Councilmember Brian Barnwell.
Scott Jenkins, a 50-year-old San Luis Obispo resident, made the trip down to Dos Pueblos High School to take part in the Obama caucus with his parents. He said Obama has been a source of inspiration.
“I’ve been voting since [Jimmy] Carter,” he said. “This is the first time I felt there was a candidate worth voting for. … I know he’s a little bit younger than I am, but it’s as if he’s speaking for my generation.”
On Clinton’s side, 99 voters took part in the process. In the end, former County Supervisor Susan Rose and local attorney Robert Egenolf garnered the most votes.
State Senate hopeful Hannah-Beth Jackson and County Supervisor Janet Wolf were among those who participated in the caucus.
“I think all these little pieces of democratic action are exciting and important,” Wolf said. “It was good to just be involved in that political process.”
One woman waiting in line to vote at the Clinton event said she had considered running for a delegate position, and even completed an application, but withdrew her name and threw her support behind Rose. She said Rose has a strong stance and will not be swayed by others to flip her vote to Obama.
While Matthew Cameron, a CSU Channel Islands student running for a Clinton delegate spot, came in second, Holden said it was encouraging to see younger candidates participating in the caucus process.
“It was really great to see the young people giving it a try,” he said. “He gave it a wonderful, solid effort.”
Even at the grassroots level, campaigning is not without controversy. Last week, the Obama camp announced it would be cutting down the number of delegate candidates in each district to remove potential “Trojan horse” candidates and to make managing the caucuses easier (some reportedly had between 80 and 100 candidates).
After organizers spoke out, Obama officials recanted and allowed all those who completed a delegate application to take part in the process.
The five chosen delegates will travel to Denver from August 25 to 28 for the 45th Democratic National Convention, ultimately selecting the candidate who will run on the Democratic presidential ticket.

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