Johnson County Democrats sign in to the caucus

Johnson County Democrats participated in tonight’s delegate selection caucus (the next step after the primary in the process for selecting delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver). Around 40 people showed up at the caucus location to select six Hillary Clinton delegates and three Barack Obama delegates to the 4th Congressional District meeting in late March and the state Democratic convention on May 10th.

I showed up about an hour before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start of the proceedings. I signed in. The county Democratic chairman asked me to be the temporary caucus chair for the Hillary Clinton group.

People trickled in. A few minutes before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start I commented to another individual that I didn’t think we’d have enough people to fill the six delegate slots and six alternate slots (three female, three male for each). It appeared that the Barack Obama contingent had shown up in much greater number. It turned out that I was wrong.

The Hillary Clinton group had 17 participants. The Barack Obama group had 19 participants. Originally there had been one more individual in the Obama group – it turned out that he had not voted in the primary. He could observe but he could not vote in the process.

Each individual in the respective caucuses then had to sign a statement of support for their candidate.

I was elected permanent chair of the caucus. We opened nominations and had four males and four females vie for the delegate slots. After the votes were counted I was among the three males elected to participate in the congressional district meeting and state Democratic convention. I will not be running for a national delegate spot – I did so and won in 2000 – it’s a good thing to let someone else have that opportunity.

The Hillary Clinton caucus listens to a speech by a delegate nominee

After the delegate positions were filled we repeated the process to elect six alternates. These positions are important – invariably most, if not all, of the alternates who show up to the state convention are seated as voting delegates due to elected delegates who don’t show for one reason or another.

In a month those of us who were elected will journey to our 4th Congressional District meeting in Warsaw, MO to elect three national Hillary Clinton delegates and two national Barack Obama delegates (note that there is no crossover voting – once you’ve committed to a candidate at the county caucus you’re restricted to participating for them at the subsequent levels of the process – you cannot “switch allegience” in the delegate selection process).

At age (almost) 50 I was the youngest person in the Hillary Clinton caucus. Most of the participants in our group were long time party activists.

The Barack Obama group had a mix of older party activists, some younger people, and quite a few first time participants who had been recruited to attend by a long time activist (he “brought his votes” – a crucial part of the caucus process). Incidentally, the long time activist was elected as a county delegate.