ustxtxb_obs_2008_02_22_50_00007-00000_000.pdf

Page 29

by

NUMBER OF DELEGATES TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION AT STAKE IN THE TEXAS PRIMARY BY REGION 126 DELEGATES TO BE DETERMINED BY THE MARCH 4 PRIMARY 43 I 31 I 19 111 7 A H B 0 60 ETHNIC MAKE-UP OF LARGEST REGIONS BY PERCENTAGE AzANGLO fir-HISPANIC B=BLACK 0=0THER THE HUNT FOR DELEGATES 72 undecided. In early February, the Observer called all 32 named Texas superdelegates. Nine said they support Clinton; five backed Obama. The remaining 18 either claimed indecision or didn’t respond. Several congressional superdelegates, including Waco’s Chet Edwards and San Antonio’s Ciro Rodriguez, said they would stay out of the race until all primaries have been completed and the voters have expressed their preferences. Others had no problem making their views known. Congressman Henry Cuellar of Laredo joined Clinton’s camp early last year, when she was the clear front-runner, and has held fundraisers for the New York senator. “She’s got the most experience in office,” said Norma Fisher Flores, a DNC member and superdelegate pledged to Clinton. “I think she’s wonderful:’ Obama has mobilized support as well. San Antonio Congressman Charlie Gonzalez endorsed the Illinois senator in mid-February. “After too many years of partisan, divisive politics, his victory will spark the beginning of a new kind of politics in America,” Gonzalez said in a press release. A complete and accurate accounting of Texas’ superdelegates probably won’t be possible until just before the Democratic national convention in August. Another 126 garden-variety “primary-sourced” delegates will be decided March 4, but this delegate cache too is apportioned in an idiosyncratic fashion. Each of Texas’ 31 state senate districts is assigned a number of delegates based on the num ber of votes received by John Kerry in 2004 and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell in 2006. Senate districts that turned out the vote are rewarded with a greater number of delegates than those that sat on their duffs. At the extremes, the nearly Democrat-free Panhandle Senate District 31 has only two delegates at stake, while District 14, home to state Sen. Kirk Watson and liberal Travis County, has eight. Adding to the confusion, an additional 67 delegates will be chosen by a three-tier caucus convention system that could alternately be described as a three-month endurance race. Of those 67, 25 slots are reserved for pledged party and elected officials who will be picked at the state convention but will vote based on the outcome of the caucuses. The remaining 42 are “at-large” slots, open to any Democrat willing to slog through the process. Each precinct is assigned a number of delegates based on the number of votes received in that precinct for Chris Bell. Fifty percent of the 87,356 precinct-level delegates are concentrated in Harris, Dallas, Travis, Tarrant, and Bexar Counties. The caucus action begins at the precinct level on the night of March 4, and then moves to county/senatorial district-level conventions on March 29, and then to the Texas Democratic Party State Convention in early June. Each step winnows the field of delegates until the state convention’s end, when 67 are left standing. FEBRUARY 22, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7