June 07, 2004

Kucinich & Dean Delegates Speak

Before the primaries, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not supporters of Dean and Kucinich would be willing to support anyone else in the general election. Yesterday, supporters of the two candidates who'd been committed enough to work through the caucus process and become delegates to the national convention spoke out.

Washington State elected 49 delegates through the Congressional District caucuses, and groups that meet threshold got a share of the 17 at-large delegates. There were 15 Dean delegates from the CD caucuses, and they elected 6 at-large delegates. There weren't even supposed to be any Kucinich delegates based on the original precinct caucus results. Through great tenacity, they came in with 6 from the CD caucuses, and were allotted one at-large spot.

Kucinich delegate Jessica Beckett said that "Kerry as a candidate very much needs the votes of the progressive left. Kucinich represents a large, unrepresented voting bloc. If his voice is included in the party, their vote will come with it." She said that she intended to go to the convention to unite people, but also that she understood if some people felt they couldn't compromise.

If the other Kucinich delegates felt they couldn't compromise, it didn't show. When the national delegates left the room to vote on the alternate, they pulled their chairs into a circle to discuss coordinating a voter registration campaign at local events. When one of their number came in with a bag of extra Kerry pens, nearly everybody reached in for what might have been their first piece of Kerry paraphernalia.

Like Beckett, Ricardo Polintan also saw his participation as a Dean delegate as a way to engage more people by moving the party and its candidate closer to Dean's positions. Saying, "I think the other thing we can bring to the Kerry campaign is all the new people that got energized, so that hopefully Kerry wins." He was talking about people like fellow Dean delegate Leni Skarin. Skarin said that she was supporting Kerry because Dean had asked her to, but also that "I'm getting more involved and active all the time because of the Dean campaign."

The common mood among the delegates in both camps was probably summed up by Dean delegate, Janis Traven. She said that she'd "made a pledge at my Congressional District [caucus] that if they had a hard time voting for anybody but Dean, I'd come over and hold their nose for them" while they filled out their absentee ballot. Adding, "I'm not going to let people sit this one out." Though Traven felt that the Kerry campaign was too top-down, and wasn't embracing the Dean supporters as much as she would like, it wasn't an option not to support him.

Dr. Jim Mullins, another Kucinich delegate, wanted Kerry to stand up more one issues important to him such as peace, education, and fair trade. He said he was amazed that the candidate would still hold Walmart stock, but thought that keeping these issues on the table would draw people in who might no vote, or would vote for Nader. In Kerry's favor, Mullins said there would be no "comparable Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Bandar Bush, [etc.] in a Kerry administration. This is the fight of our lives." Professor Mullins looked forward to discussing these issues at the national convention, saying that "Democracy begins at home.

Some of the Dean delegates had some suggestions about what they'd like to see in the presumptive Democratic nominee. Alan Dahl said that "what all us Dean people want is for Kerry's mouth to open and Dean's words to come out." He wants to see more passion from the candidate, and stronger stands, though noted that he was happy about the things Kerry has been saying recently. Joanna Decker recommended a speech coach and new speechwriters, and suggested that the values of all the primary candidates be pulled together for a new policy backbone. "We all need to come together," she said.

A couple of the national Dean delegates that commented had attended a recent rally for Kerry in Seattle to get a closer look at the candidate. Sylvia Olveda said that she wasn't quite wowed yet, but that it had been good to get a chance to tell him what she thought about the Iraq war. Luis Moscoso said that in person, Kerry had seemed personable and more relaxed than the Washington State elected officials who joined him in his visit to Seattle. Moscoso said he felt a lot better about him and wouldn't have any trouble supporting him for the rest of the campaign, saying "I feel like I've connected with him now."

As Skarin said, "I think Democrats are unified right now, and I think that's a good thing."

Posted by natasha at June 7, 2004 06:26 PM | WA Politics | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

I am such an admirer of Dennis Kucinich. I lived in Cleveland for a couple of years attending college - later moved to one of the 'bedroom communities' for a few more. But the most striking thing I saw him do was push mightily for a local hospital to stay open that was caught in the midst of the University Hospitals - Cleveland Clinic fray. He is so "right on" with a lot of what he says, specifically about our involvement in Iraq.

As for Dean - what little respect I had for cable news vanished entirely when that so-called "scream" was played ad nauseum. He is another good and thoughtful man that I respect deeply as well.

Posted by: Kitt at June 8, 2004 02:39 AM

One at-large Kucinich delegate? A peculiar result. By rule, Kucinich missed the 15% viability threshold, and thus would receive 0 at-large seats. If the threshold was waived, 6/49*17 should yield 2 at-large delegates.

Was the Kucinich camp perhaps granted 1 of the 2 add-on delegates, as a pro-unity consolation prize?

Posted by: RonK, Seattle at June 8, 2004 03:09 AM

Thank You for the reminder to keep the Big picture in mind. I hope you don't mind, but I wrote a preface and added a copy of your post in the following 3 locations:




Posted by: David {Bear} Binkele at June 8, 2004 02:21 PM

RonK - The Kucinich delegate that I put that question to was just as mystified as I was. Something vague was said about an obscure rule. By the time the Kucinich camp announced it (in the main room pre-subcaucus they'd announced that there would be no at-large for the Kucinich camp for just the reason you said) it was getting to be around 5. I'd been hanging around meeting halls all day, and the Kerry people were just working through the 'L' candidates out of the 98 people competing for their at-large spots. So I went home with my quotes and remain mystified.

Posted by: natasha at June 9, 2004 08:31 AM

Wow, you stayed until 5:00? I just couldn't sit any longer after Saturday's platform votes. I left the Dean subcaucus at 3:30. I had hoped to be considered as an at-large delegate to the national convention, but had missed the morning meeting and didn't realize I needed someone to nominate me. Oh well, I was planning on going to Boston anyway, so now I can just check things out without having to sit through endless procedural maneuverings. This was my first state convention. Al Gore's speech was very well done, I thought. He was very articulate and passionate, but my favorite speech was given by Dave Ross on Saturday. I believe he is running as a candidate for Jennifer Dunn's congressional seat.

Posted by: SME in Seattle at June 9, 2004 12:11 PM

Re the mysterious additional Kucinich delegate -- I have it on competent authority that the final DK delegate was one of two "add on" delegates, NOT a partial relaxation of the viability rules (as one theory had it), and NOT a direct horsetrade between HD and DK camps (as another theory had it).

An add-on delegate delegate is basically a wild card that can be assigned for any purpose under the sun -- to placate a faction or interest group, to correct a gender/ethnic/geo/other imbalance, to mitigate a technical hairline miss in the allocation formulae, to honor a notable party member, or to give an insistent 800-lb gorilla's SO a seat in the delegation.

Under the circumstances, BTW, a horsetrade would have worked ... and the fact that there was no explicit horsetrade does not conclusively exlude the possibility of an implicit horsetrade.

Also BTW, some districted DK delegates were the product of "charity conversions" in lower level caucuses, where non-DK adherents switched to donate votes to help DK reach viability or "largest fractional remainder" allocability.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle at June 10, 2004 04:53 PM

SME - Sorry to have missed you so narrowly, sorry you didn't make it. I decided not to even try because the competition at the CD level was so impressive. I'm really proud of the diversity and talent that will be represented by the Washington Dean delegation.

RonK - The DK delegates did that in both my LD and CD caucuses. Those people are persistent and I'm glad to see that it went rewarded. I think it may have been mollification for the HD & JK people refusing to motion for candidate representative speeches or some similar procedural complaint. Or maybe they're just really sensitive to not shutting out the Nader leaning factions of the left of center.

Posted by: natasha at June 10, 2004 06:56 PM

I'm a total fledgling, but a quick study. The process you described matched my observations for the LD and CD level. I was originally an Edwards delegate because my local precinct didn't have the percentage numbers to elect a Dean delegate. At the LD I switched to undecided with the other Edwards delegates to form enough of a block to get a few delegates to the CD, squeaked by on that level as an alternate. At the CD, I got seated and switched to Dean, who was my first choice anyway. The other undecideds went to Kucinich for the necessary numbers to elect a national delegate. I voted for Luis Moscosco as our Dean National Delegate; he is obviously well qualified, articulate, and an excellent speaker. The learning curve has been new and excitingly different. OT-I haven't read Sean Mullins, but I plan on getting the trilogy as I'm always looking for new material, especially flawed heroes, my favorite theme. Have you read John Varley's Wizard, Titan, Demon trilogy?

Posted by: SME in Seattle at June 11, 2004 10:24 AM

SME - dude! You were at the same CD caucus I was. I ended up voting for Moscoso, too. Two ships passing in the night. Or something cliche like that.

Posted by: natasha at June 11, 2004 07:53 PM

actually a dudette...;)

Posted by: SME in Seattle at June 13, 2004 09:55 AM