May 01, 2004

Caucus II

Today we went to the legislative district caucus for the 5th district.

I was a Dean delegate from the precinct caucuses, and Becky was an alternate (though she ended up being promoted to full delegate status along with all the other alternates since there were a lot of delegate no-shows).

Despite having fair warning this time that there would be a bunch of people at the caucus, the game was still pretty sadly disorganized. There was hit-or-miss adherence to parliamentary procedure or Robert's Rules of Order or both or neither. There were some parts of the process (especially the balloting and election of delegates to the state convention) that didn't scale well. Despite the fact that it was obvious that 90% of the delegates had never been to a caucus before, there was virtually no effort to explain the process. It felt like the party members had become completely accustomed to performing the caucus exercise as a low-key social meeting with the same couple of dozen participants for years and just couldn't quite figure out what to do with the 500 people who showed up today.

But while it was disorganized, everyone's heart was clearly in the right place. With only a few exceptions everyone was pretty patient with the day's program which ended up running from 9am until a little after 2pm.

The 5th district is having a big election year. In addition to the presidential race, we'll be electing a new governor, a new attorney general, a new congressional rep, a new state senator, and two new state representatives. And we heard stump speeches from hopefuls for all those offices.

Christine Gregoire spoke about her gubernatorial campaign and promptly scampered off presumably to talk to other groups.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict who's running for Jennifer Dunn's soon-to-be-vacated House seat gave a brief speech.

Mark Sidran gave a rousing speech in support of his campaign for state Attorney General.

We also heard from the three candidates for the 5th's three state legislative seats: Kathy Huckabay, Jeff Griffin, and Barb DeMichele.

After initial delegate counting, the only two candidates with the necessary 15% to send delegates on to the state convention were Kerry and Dean.

There seemed to be a lot of confusion about why anyone would still be supporting other candidates than John Kerry now that his nomination is a foregone conclusion. The answer lies in the fact that the purpose of the caucuses and conventions is two-fold. The most visible purpose is to elect delegates to the next level of convention and eventually to annoint the party's candidate for president, but the caucuses are also the venue in which the issues that are to become part of the Democratic Party platform are presented and argued. By electing delegates who support a candidate who is no longer viable, the hope is that the issues and ideas supported by the defunct candidate will find their way into the party platform, changing the nature of the party going forward.

After the initial delegate counts, when delegates for candidates with less than 15% found out that their candidate would not be represented at the next level, everyone had an opportunity to switch allegiance, and representatives of the different candidates gave speeches to try to convince the switchers to choose their candidate. The first couple such speeches were forgettable, but then Kayne McGladrey got up and gave a rousing speech singing Dr. Dean's praises, charging up the crowd, and, in the end, netting Dean another delegate. Nice job, Kayne! You can read the speech on Kayne's blog, Pleasing To Remember.

It took another couple hours to elect delegates to the state convention with most of that time taken up by one-minute speeches from all the hopefuls.

The day was tedious at times, and the school gymnasium was not the most comfortable place to debate politics, but it was great to see so many people getting involved in the process and it was great to be one of those people.

The next opportunity to be involved is the King County Convention on May 8th at which the county platform is to be hammered out. I hope I can make it to that meeting.

Posted by jeffy at May 1, 2004 10:13 PM

More on last Saturday's caucuses from

Best Kungfu



Posted by: jeffy at May 6, 2004 04:41 PM