By Marc Campos

Precinct Conventions and Caucuses and More Conventions

One of the Chron’s columnists lays out a good take today on the Lone Star State’s two step, two tier, two timing Dem Precinct Convention/Caucus Primary. It kind of gives us a little history. Check it out at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/falkenberg/5608509.html.

The current two fer system was called into action in the 1980s. Prior to that (except for 1976) - since the early 1900s – Lone Star State Dems had a pure precinct/convention caucus system to elect Prez delegates to the Dem National Convention. Of course, up until 1972, the so called Dem Party bosses, usually led by the Dem Guv, controlled stuff so we really didn’t have true competitive Dem Prez primaries In 1968, there was a revolt of sorts led by Texas Liberals that resulted in a ‘rump” delegation – as I recall. In 1972, operating under the so called “McGovern rules/reforms”, as a result of the precinct conventions, the Texas Delegation to the Dem National Convention in Miami had McGovern Delegates, George Wallace Delegates, Humphrey Delegates, and Uncommitted Delegates – a new era had arrived.

In 1976, we still had the precinct conventions but we added a system where folks were on the ballot by their presidential preference like as I recall Leonel Castillo for Sargent Shriver, Billie Carr for Uncommitted, and Olga Soliz for Jimmy Carter – I think. Folks got to vote for individuals and their preferences. That was the only year we did that. That year the precinct conventions were still used to determine At-Large delegates to the national convention.

In 1980, we still had the precinct conventions but had a “beauty contest” primary election – Carter versus Kennedy. The precinct conventions determined the national convention delegates. The “beauty contest” just created interest. In the 1980s we got into this new system that we currently use where a combo primary election and convention/caucuses are used.

Now we have us a debate going on to do away with the precinct convention/ caucuses. Before we scuttle systems, let’s take a look at how we got here and have a discussion on where we want to go. Stay tuned!

It looks like Commentary might be the first casualty of the Dem Senatorial/County Conventions and they haven’t even started. A week or so before the March 4 election, the Chair of Senatorial District 15 called Commentary and asked me to Chair the Nominations Committee. Commentary agreed and let some folks know what I would be doing. Well a few days after the March 4 election, the SD 15 Chair abruptly resigned and now the remaining SD 15 Dem leadership is snatching the Nominations Chair position away from Commentary. They don’t want to honor the commitment that was made. Commentary’s take is that if a commitment is made you honor it and honorable folks should get it. Of course, I don’t blame them. Commentary has made it pretty clear that the Dem Senatorial/County Conventions shouldn’t be business as usual but it is pretty obvious that business as usual may end up prevailing. I gave up my delegate slot at my precinct convention because I thought I was going to be busy Chairing Nominations. Since I might not be able to even get into the convention I may get a chance to see the ‘Stros versus the Tigers in the final exhibition game at The Yard that Saturday. Just when you think you’ve run out of material…….also stay tuned!

It looks like Hillary is minus one Super Duper Dem Delegate from New York – yikes! Is his name Eliot or Idiot? Speaking of, nobody around Commentary’s office can figure out what you get for $4,300. They have to throw in at least a bottle of Dom or Krystal – you think? I bet he wished he had just flipped on one of those hotel adult movie channels.

A Dem fella is a bit offended because Commentary refers to Obama as Obama and not Barack like I refer to Hillary as Hillary and not Clinton. Last time I checked, Hillary stresses Hillary on her campaign signs and Obama prominently highlights the “O” as in Obama.

Commentary doesn’t know if we should rely on the U.S. Postal Service to help determine the Dem Prez sweepstakes. Talk about the ultimate mail ballot program! I’m thinking Florida and Michigan aren’t going to Colorado this August. It is not looking too good.

East Harris County Dem Honcho Darryl Hurt let me know last week that President Clinton visited San Jac College on Spencer Highway back in 1998. I stand corrected.

More from the Precinct Conventions:

Precinct 207 reporting—as voters were arriving to participate, Commissioner Sylvia Garcia worked to keep the room calm while the last voters cast their votes next door. Polls closed—then Caucus begins. The precinct chair arrives and does not explain anything. HCC Board Chair Yolanda Navarro Flores quickly advised group of what should transpire. (Note: Yolanda attended the precinct convention training.) The precinct chair complied and so the meeting got off to a good start. Sofia Aguilar was elected to run the meeting and with a little help it was smooth to moderate sailing all night. Our little room at St. Albans Church in the heart of Lindale was packed to its gills. We ran out of sign-in sheets but some quick thinkers figured out how to get more. Our caucus had earned 16 delegates and 16 alternates. After the signatures were verified, which found some folks did not vote the math was done, and the score card was read: 13 delegates-went to my girl, Hillary, and 3 went to the other side. I was so proud of my neighbors. People actually listened to the resolutions and offered their opinions on them. And some resolutions got the nod and will be proceed to the Senatorial convention and some well ….they got no where. But all and all Precinct 207 folks did an incredible job of working like neighbors should. (Linda Morales, 207 Registered Voter)

Commentary is starting to think that our Dem Prez sweepstakes will still being going on as we head into the MLB All Star break in July. Heck, I may go up to Philly April 15 – 16 to see the ‘Stros versus the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and catch some Hillary/Obama primary action while I’m there.

March 11, 2008 9:00AM

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