Page 2


Democrats join in a “unity” moment at the state convention. the race so long after her chance for victory had dwindled to nil. Many Clinton diehards, meanwhile, weren’t quite ready to embrace Obama, though most said they eventually would. One Clinton supporter toted a sign that read, “Small-town, gunowning religious Democrat bitter about Obama.” More than a few Clinton delegates said they wanted Hillary as the vice presidential nomineeand suggested Obama can’t win without her. That sentiment could prolong the discord if Obama chooses someone else. The Clinton supporters tried to prevent their delegates from switching to Obama. Their largely successful efforts arose partly from loyalty to their candidate, and partly from the desire to provide the former first lady with at least a little leverage at the national convention, should she need it. One Clinton delegate who announced she was switching to Obama was denounced by Hillary supporters as “rogue” “I’m disappointed. I don’t like [that Obama’s the nominee],” said Kevin Rice, a Clinton delegate from San Antonio. “I guess I have to vote for him because I’m a Democrat. But it’s going to take some time. It’s almost like a mourning period. Our campaign died, and we’re in mourning.” McAllen state Rep. Veronica Gonzales said anger about Clinton’s loss was particularly acute in South Texas. “I feel that Hispanics who are upset about Clinton not getting the nomination just won’t come out and vote,” she said. Bigger hasn’t always been better for Texas Democrats this year. The party’s hybrid presidential primarycaucus systemwhich came to be known as the Texas Two-Stepwasn’t accustomed to handling so many voters. It’s been a monumental logistical challenge for a party that isn’t exactly known for its organizational aptitude. photo by Forrest Wilder At the state convention, that trend continued. When delegates from Fort Worth caucused on the convention’s first night, they hoped this last step in the three-tiered process would go more smoothly than their chaotic county conventionstep No. 2in late March. That process lasted until 3 a.m. No such luck. It took more than 90 minutes just to sort through which delegates and alternates had shown up. “No matter how long it takes, it can’t be as long as the [county] convention,” said one Obama delegate early in the night. She was almost proved wrong. The Fort Worth delegation of several hundred could send just five delegates \(three for Obama Denver, and nearly all of the delegates assembled wanted to go. More than 100 Obama supporters in the Fort Worth caucus ran for the three Obama delegate slots. By the time the speeches were over and the voting had concluded, it was nearly 2 a.m. At least there were no accusations of corruption in Fort Worth. In March, the Hidalgo County convention ended in acrimony and chaos when outgoing county chair Juan Maldonado, a bail bondsman, chose a less-than-democratic method for selecting Hidalgo County’s delegates to the state convention. Maldonado appointed himself, his assistant, and his nephew, as well as prominent local officials. Nepotism was Maldonado’s parting gift to the party. He had already lost his bid for re-election as county chair earlier in the spring to Dolly Elizondo, who will be the first woman in Hidalgo County history to serve as party chair. After all the confusion of March, many Democratic activists came to the state convention hoping to scrap the caucus half of the Texas Two-Step and, in future presidential elections, award JUNE 27, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15