Michigan Dems fill 1st round convention spots

April 19, 2008 6:43:08 PM PDT
Michigan Democrats met Saturday to choose their first round of national convention delegates, even though the state has been stripped of its delegates by the Democratic National Committee. Party members were selecting 83 delegates and 15 alternates at 15 district conventions around the state. Delegates were allocated according to the results of the Jan. 15 primary, which New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won. An official list of delegates and alternates was to be released early in the week by the Michigan Democratic Party.

"It appears that there's been good turnout at all the conventions around the state," Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said Saturday afternoon. "Nobody has called with anything out of the ordinary."

In Lansing, where the 8th District meeting took place at a United Auto Workers union hall, the contest to elect the Clinton delegates took less than an hour.

But 40 percent of Michigan voters in the Democratic primary backed "uncommitted" after candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards and two others removed their names from the ballot. Competition around the state for those 36 delegate and 2 alternate uncommitted seats - all of which were expected to go to Obama supporters - was much more intense, especially since about 450 people registered to run for them.

In Lansing, Griffin Rivers beat 17 others for the male uncommitted spot, while Irene McDonnell Cahill of Howell, a teamster, bested 21 others for the female uncommitted spot. Both back the Illinois senator, as was evidenced by Rivers' black T-shirt emblazoned with the words: "No drama with Obama."

They said Obama is energizing the party in a new way.

"I think he'll be a tremendous asset in building the Democratic Party back to the status it once was," said Rivers, of Lansing, chairman of the Ingham County Democratic Party. "The groundswell is there."

The state's remaining Democratic delegates and alternates are expected to be chosen in May. Michigan Democrats are selecting delegates even though they and Florida Democrats were stripped of their delegates by the DNC after the states broke party rules by holding presidential primaries in January.

Michigan plans to fill all of its 128 pledged delegate spots despite the DNC action. It also has 28 superdelegates. Most of the superdelegates aren't yet pledged to a particular candidate, although some have announced their favorites.

Both states are working with national and state party leaders and the Clinton and Obama campaigns to get their delegates seated at the Aug. 25-28 Democratic National Convention in Denver. So far, no agreements have been reached.


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