Colorado Delegate Hopefuls Face Fierce Competition for Convention Seats

The fax machine was humming and foot traffic into the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) headquarters in Denver was brisk last Thursday up to the 5 p.m. deadline to hand in the delegate form. The end result: Competition to sit on Colorado’s national convention delegation will be fierce at the state convention May 17 in Colorado Springs. Nearly 2,000 out of the 5,000 Democratic delegates going to the state convention have indicated that they will run for one of the 55 national convention seats from Colorado.

If a Democrat wanted to qualify for a seat on the Colorado delegation to the Democratic National Convention, the first step was to go to the February caucus. Then, one had to fill out a delegate application form indicating interest and presidential preference by April 17. The final national delegate selection process will be completed at the congressional and state conventions in May.

Among other requirements, such as attending one’s local caucus in February, Colorado Democrats had to fill out a special form if they were interested in becoming a delegate to the national convention in Denver, Aug. 25-28. The tight competition between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, combined with the close proximity of the convention in Denver, has inspired a record number of Democrats to vie for a national delegate seat.

Colorado was assigned 70 delegate slots to the Democratic convention. Superdelegates and one unpledged add-on automatically take 15 slots, leaving 55 seats selected from three categories: congressional districts, at-large delegates, and party leaders and elected officials. A little more than 5,000 delegates will be attending the state convention at the Colorado Springs World Arena and they will elect who will fill the 55 seats.

Harvey Branscomb, a member of the CDP platform committee from Eagle, happened to be at headquarters to see the last-minute rush of delegate forms delivered. “I was there for a couple of hours and a hundred faxes must have rolled in.” Branscomb noted that Shelley Alonso-Marsden was the last applicant in the door.

I didn’t decide until this morning,” said Alonso-Marsden, 23, a researcher for the University of Colorado. The competition was a little overwhelming. “I’m a nobody at a grassroots level.”

Although she has been voting since the age of 18, this is the first year she has been active in politics. “I have been a Clinton fan since I was eight years old, so I was thrilled to go to caucus to support her.” By Thursday, friends convinced Alonso-Marsden to apply, but she had to meet with clients in Golden first. She said it was luck that she hit the deadline at the last minute.

CDP director, Bill Compton, said party officials worked over the weekend to determine an applicant’s eligibility and to sort the applicants into the different categories. Here are the results:

The 2-to-1 advantage that Obama has over Clinton was reflected at the county assemblies as well. Since delegates can change their allegiance, new presidential preference polls will be taken at the state convention and the congressional conventions, so ratios could change.

According to Compton, the breakdown of the 70 delegates is as follows:

Congressional districts: 36 delegates chosen at the congressional conventions in May

CD 1:  3 males, 3 females, 1 male alternate
CD2:  3 males, 3 females, 1 female alternate
CD3:  2 males, 3 females, 1 male alternate
CD4:  3 males, 2 females, 1 female alternate
CD5:  2 males, 2 females, 1 male alternate
CD6:  2 males, 3 females, 1 male alternate
CD7:  3 males, 2 females, 1 female alternate

State at-large: 12 delegates, 2 alternates chosen at state convention

Party leaders and elected officials: 7 delegates to national convention

Un-Pledged Add-On: 1, nominated by party officials and chosen at the state convention

Superdelegates: 14

Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns were given the list of delegate applications on Monday. They can whittle down the list to ensure steadfast supporters will be going to the national convention.

Clinton and Obama will be looking for delegates who have experience in the political process,” said former CDP vice-chair Julia Hicks, an Obama supporter. “You want old war-horses in your delegation if there is going to be a convention floor fight.”

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Leslie Robinson

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