Battle Resolved, Obama Supporters Gain 26 Delegates to State Convention
by Sito Negron
Posted on May 28, 2008
The El Paso Democratics supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama won a key ruling that will increase the number of delegates they can take to the state convention.
Today's ruling means that the split of delegates going to the state Democratic Party convention June 5-7 will be closer to the 75-25 split reflected among delegates who attended El Paso County's Democratic Party convention at the end of March. [background]
The argument split local Democratics, but both sides said they're ready, or at least almost ready, to put it behind them.
"We'll carry some barbs forward to the state convention," said Ken Sutherland, a Hillary Clinton supporter, chair of the county party's Nominations Committee and a former county Democratic Party chairman. "But when that convention is over we'll come back solid and work on the election in November and our slate of candidates."
John Padalino, a lawyer and Obama supporter who argued for more Obama delegates, said there might be some lingering effects but "I feel that overall, Democrats in El Paso County want to elect a Democrat and I feel once we understand who the nominee is going to be we're going to get behind that person.
"We're going to do everything we can to get a Democrat in the White House, to get Rick Noriega elected to the Senate, and to get Joe Moody elected in House District 78, the one contested race in El Paso."
The ruling by the state party's temporary Credentials Committee gives 26 at-large delegates to the Obama side.
Here’s how it worked:
-- The convention attendees chose delegates from among the representatives of the 170-odd precincts in El Paso. Some precincts were combined so the total of delegates from that process was 127. The overwhelming majority of precincts had majority support for Clinton, and the split ended up 120 delegates for Clinton and seven for Obama.
-- Later in the evening, in Sutherland's committee, 48 at-large delegates were picked. The 48 delegates were split about 3-1 for Clinton.
-- According to the state party rules, “Poll results shall be used by the Nominations Committee and by the Convention as a whole as the basis for nominating and for electing At-Large Delegates so as to ensure the fairest possible representation of the Convention participants as a whole within the total delegation, without disturbing the Precinct Caucus election results.” [(10. Election Procedure in Presidential and in Non-Presidential Years, (d)(4)]
-- El Paso lawyer Don Williams argued that meant the 48 at-large delegates ought to be split in a way so as to make the overall El Paso delegation to the state convention match the 3-1 ratio of those who signed in at the county convention.
-- Today, the state temporary Credentials Committee agreed, and awarded 26 more delegates to the Obama camp. The split of delegates going to the state convention will now be 44 for Obama, 131 for Clinton.
Williams said he was satisfied with the ruling.
"I felt that we had a valid challenge from the beginning, and that if we had to go this far we would."
Danny Anchondo, El Paso County Democratic chairman, said "the (El Paso County) Democratic Party accepts what the credentials committee is going to do. We have two groups fighting vigorously for each side and that's what it should be.
"Now that we have both of these sides and they know who will be here now it's time to get the nomination as to who is going to be the presidential candidate and get behind it."
When asked whether he felt any responsibility for allowing the situation to develop in the first place, he said, "no, I tried to give them direction but both sides are very strong.
"I did have them working together. That fell through, (and) both sides, even all the way to the national, are divided in their support, and there's nothing wrong with that.
"Both sides should be fighting very hard for their candidate and there's nothing wrong with that. It keeps things exciting. As long as it doesn’t become personal it's ok."
According to the El Paso Times: "Texas will send 228 delegates to attend the national party convention in Denver in August, where the presidential nominee will be selected. Of those, 126 delegates will be awarded according to the popular vote in the March 4 primary and 67 according to the support each candidate has at the state convention. The remaining 35 are super delegates who can vote any way they choose at the national convention.
"The more delegates each candidate has at the state convention, the more likely they are to win a larger share of the 67 delegates still up for grabs."
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