Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Democratic Caucus 4/5/08

Saturday was the Legislative District Caucus, and what a whirlwind. I was hopping around in the cold as a Fred Meyer employee unlocked the doors at 7 a.m. so I could run in and make copies of my campaign flyer. I drove to Lake Stevens High School with doughnuts and butterflies in the stomach to a few cars in the lot. Luckily, I was successful in getting a good number of volunteers to arrive early, so we all were huddled outside in the parking lot, waiting for the doors to open at 8:30 a.m. Once open, the first few hours were a frenzied blur of setting up tables, signing in delegates and alternates, and then campaigning in the packed gymnasium.

I wasn't kidding about that; running as a delegate was highly competitive. Involving speeches, position statements, flyers, and posterboard that left my hands looking like auditionees for the Blue Man Group. There were a good 150 of us running around in between announcements, Q&A sessions, and flute-playing (by the talented Jackie who was helping to MC the stalling sessions) as we waited for the credentialing process.

Each delegate needed to be verified for identity, voter status, and cross-referenced on the list of electees from the Precinct Level Caucuses. Those were the ones that everyone did back in February, electing delegates to go to the LD and County level. Once the verification was completed, we were able to proceed to the question of absentees - and oh, joy. Then verify any alternates that were still around by the same, lengthy process. This seemed to be the main investiture of the day, since we finally got all that done around 2 p.m. (it started in earnest at 10 a.m.).

Things moved pretty swiftly for a while after that, since there were no objections to keeping our LD platform and we heard from local Democrats who were to be running this fall for election. And then came the nightmare prospect of speeches from all those running for the next caucus, the Congressional District Caucus on May 17th.

The CD Caucus purpose is to elect the national delegates for the Democratic Convention in August that we keep hearing about in the news. Those elected here (51 Delegates + 9 Alternates) are "pledged" delegates who must represent the result of the caucuses and will be known as the Elections Committee.

They will be responsible for electing the "At-Large Delegates" (17 Delegates + 4 Alternates), also pledged, who are people like me that are not elected officials of the party, 10 "Pledged Party Leaders" who are elected or posted democrats within the party that also must vote according to the caucus process results, and 2 "Add-Ons" that are unpledged (don't have to vote according to the results of our caucus) from the State Convention in June to go to the National Convention.

Add those to the 17 "Super Delegates," another term heard a lot these days, to equal the full complement of delegates from our state which is 97. About Super Delegates: all are unpledged. They are not required to vote according to the caucus results. So even if Washington State caucus results are 75% for Obama, these Super Delegates could all vote for Clinton if they chose. It's based upon their individual preferences, not our state's results. Super Delegates are elected democrats of the U.S. House and Senate (8), WA Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire (1), members of the Democratic National Committee who live in WA State (7), and The Hon. Tom Foley, as our "Distinguished Party Leader", former Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives (1). Clear as mud? :)

The Elections Committee, formed at the Congressional District Caucus, is the goal of everyone running to be a delegate to the CD Caucus in May. From there, it's National Convention time in Denver, which is where the final determination happens, if things proceed as they have been without a decision, for the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. Heady stuff.

I'm in CD 1, which is a little dragonet on the map of WA State of four counties: Snohomish, Kitsap, Island, and a sliver of King. Here's the map if you want to see it or find your own in WA. There were so many people running for this CD that we had to be called up in groups to make our 30 second speeches. Sadly, I was last since I was running around as a volunteer and helping where necessary. Mine had to be truncated, the legs of my reason for running and what I can bring were swept off in an effort to conserve time. This was due to the hour - it was already 4 p.m., which was a good hour and half past when we were supposed to be done.

Once the ballots were cast, a few people began to fade away. We had been there all day and a lot of people were thirsty and hungry since there was no break for lunch and we had cleaned out all the vending machines. We were chuckling to think about the poor kids coming in to the high school on Monday and cursing our names since all the soda, water, juice, and snackies were already purchased by the thirsting and hungry Dem masses.

We heard the word for the first round, which I didn't get but a fabulous guy named Reggie did. He and I had been running into each other and feeding off one another's enthusiasm all day, so I was really excited he got it. I campaigned for an alternate position and waited another hour to hear that I GOT IT! I did a little squeak of a 'Yay!' when they read my name. It's such a cool accomplishment, to get something you're trying for, and that moment when you have it is like cool water on the parched lips of anticipation.

Next up are the 44th LD meeting this Thursday and helping with the County Convention to happen this Sunday at Comcast Arena. Suddenly I'm an active, dues-paying member of the Democratic Party because of one charismatic guy running for president who believes in being a part of the process - Barack Obama.

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