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APN Guide To The Democratic National Convention

APN Guide to Delegates to the Democratic National Convention

By Jonathan Springston

(APN) ATLANTA – The Democratic National Convention will host 3,515 pledged delegates and 852 unpledged delegates from all over the country in Denver, Colorado, from August 25 through August 28, 2008.

Georgia will send a total of 133 delegates to Denver to choose between US Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL).

Neither candidate has enough delegates at this point to secure the nomination, even after well over half the country has voted.

Some pundits and other experts have raised the specter that Democrats will have a brokered convention, meaning neither candidate will have enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot.

"It’s too soon to say we’re going to have a brokered convention - everybody panic," Martin Matheny, Communications Director for the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG), told Atlanta Progressive News.

"The fact that we’re this close now and it’s not decided speaks to the strengths of the two candidates," Matheny said.

APN asked Matheny if he thought the nominee would be determined by superdelegates, or unpledged party leader and elected official (PLEO) delegates.

"What we want is to get together and united behind somebody and put a Democrat in the White House," he said. "We want to make sure that this is decided by the voters, not the superdelegates."

Georgia will send 13 superdelegates to the Convention this summer.

"The superdelegates for each State are determined by the national Party," Matheny told APN. "They send us a list. Most of the superdelegates are superdelegates by virtue of party bylaws."

The Georgia superdelegates are: former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter; US Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), David Scott (D-GA), John Barrow (D-GA), and Jim Marshall (D-GA); DPG chairwoman Jane Kidd; State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurman; President of the Georgia AFL-CIO Richard Ray; Elected official of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lonnie Plott; Carole Dabbs, former top aide to former US Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA); and Party activist, Mary Long.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was a superdelegate until she stepped down as the head of the National Conference of Mayors last year.

Matheny said Georgia will also send two unpledged add-on delegates who have yet to be named. These are similar to the other superdelegates in that they are unpledged and will most likely be figures in the DPG.

While some of Georgia’s superdelegates have made a public commitment to one candidate, the majority is undecided. Matheny said DPG chair Kidd is not leaning one way or the other at this point.

"She kind of considers it her job to stay neutral for a while," Matheny told APN. "I don’t even know who she voted for on Super Tuesday."

LEWIS EQUIVOCATES ON CLINTON ENDORSEMENT

US Rep. John Lewis has endorsed US Sen. Hillary Clinton. However, the Associated Press reported February 14, 2008, that Lewis was considering switching to Obama.

The New York Times newspaper reported February 15, 2008, that Lewis would no longer back Clinton and instead switch over to the Obama camp.

Lewis represents District 4, which Obama carried easily on Super Tuesday. The Times reports that he said he did not want to go against the wishes of his constituents.

But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Washington Post newspapers ran stories the same day that quoted Lewis’s spokeswoman Brenda Jones as saying The Times and AP reports are not accurate.

It is important to note, however, that Lewis’s office frequently disputes the accuracy of articles, especially those involving comments made by Lewis. In the last two years, Jones has disputed two other reports by the Associated Press: one involving Lewis’s comments on impeaching President Bush, and another involving his endorsement of US Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT; then D-CT). Lewis’s office also disputed a report in APN about the Lieberman support as well.

US Rep. Scott told The Associated Press he would also switch to Obama. "You've got to represent the wishes of your constituency," Scott told the Associated Press on February 14. "My proper position would be to vote the wishes of my constituents."

Obama won Scott’s District 13 with 80 percent of the vote.

If the reports are true, Lewis and Scott would join US Reps. Johnson and Bishop as Obama supporters.

Clinton has already secured endorsements from Thurman and Dabbs.

HOW TO BECOME A PLEDGED DELEGATE

In addition to the superdelegates, Georgia will send 57 pledged district-level delegates. Obama will receive 40 of these while Clinton will receive the other 17, according to a press release from the DPG obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.

Here’s how it breaks down: Georgia has 13 Congressional Districts. The number of delegates in each of those Districts is determined by the size of the population.

For example, District 11 has three delegates. Since Obama won that district, he will get two delegates and Clinton will get one.

Will Fowlkes, 40, a senior project manager who has never been to a national Party Convention, is hoping to be that Clinton delegate.

"I always kind of wanted to do it," Fowlkes told APN. "I figured since I’m pretty much well-immersed in the Presidential cycle, this is my next step."


Fowlkes is the District 11 Chairman for the Clinton Campaign and said he will probably have to face one other person to get the delegate slot.

"The competition will be a lot more stiff for me since there is one spot," he told APN.

When a person wants to be a delegate to the Convention, he must first declare which candidate he wants to support. Then he must fill out the proper paperwork and send it in to the Congressional District Chair.

For example, in Fowlkes’s District, the Chairman is David McLaughlin. The deadline for turning in the paperwork in all districts is April 4, 2008.

A representative from the Campaign has to go over the application and approve the name. Fowlkes said this ensures that there are "loyal people" at the Convention.

Once the Campaign approves the name, it is up to the candidate to Campaign and hold fundraisers in their election to become a delegate. Each delegate is expected to pay his own way to Denver and cover all expenses.

Fowlkes told APN he is hoping to raise enough money so that he and at least his 18-year old daughter, who is voting in her very first Presidential Election, can travel to Denver.

Each of Georgia’s 13 Congressional Districts will hold delegate elections on April 19, 2008. Anyone, regardless of party affiliation, can show up in their District that day and vote, so long as they are registered to vote in that District.

The process is very informal in that the vote could be taken by a show of hands, depending on how many people show up, Fowlkes said.

There is only one vote and majority rules. If a candidate gets the most votes, he or she is heading to Denver.

But there are also 10 alternate slots for District-level pledged delegates. Fowlkes said if he has to run against another candidate and that person wins, Fowlkes could become an alternate.

OTHER DELEGATES

Georgia will send 19 at-large delegates and 11 pledged PLEOs to Denver. The DPG State Committee chooses all of these.

The State Committee is one of two DPG operating committees. It has 296 congressional district members, 30 at-large members, and 25 ex-officio members representing all of Georgia’s 159 counties.

To be an at-large delegate, a person must declare his candidacy, choose a candidate, and fill out the proper paperwork by May 15, 2008. The State Committee elects the at-large delegates on May 24, 2008.

Obama will receive 13 statewide at-large and seven pledged PLEOs while Clinton will receive six at-large and four pledged PLEOs, according to the DPG.

Rounding out Georgia’s delegation are 12 standing committee delegates, all of whom are chosen by Georgia’s elected delegates, and three Convention pages, which are chosen by DPG Chairwoman Kidd.

ENDS

**************

About the author: Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan_AT_atlantaprogressivenews.com. Syndication policy: This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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