Expect the Unexpected at State Dem Convention

    What will delegates and visitors encounter at the Colorado Democratic Party State Convention in May? With nearly 10,000 people expected, thousands of votes to be counted, and many issues to be determined, their experience will no doubt be memorable.Here’s a recipe that is sure to be stirred: Start with 5,000 Democratic delegates. Add about 5,000 more visitors, political VIPs, vendors, lobbyists, special interest groups and media in a facility that holds 9,000. Shake in about 2,000 people running for a handful of national convention delegate seats. Season it with presidential campaign paraphernalia and campaign supporters. Throw in a U.S. Senate nomination and three Democratic National Committee seat races for good measure; and to top it off, plop a party platform discussion (or fight) at the end.

    Welcome to the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) state convention at the World Arena in Colorado Springs May 17.

    Let’s separate out the ingredients to this recipe.

    Record Number of State Delegates Converge
    A record number of over 120,000 Democrats participated in the Feb. 5 precinct caucuses, and this surge continues with over 5,000 delegates attending the state convention in May. Many of the delegates will be attending a state convention for the first time. No doubt, this will add intrigue to the organizational challenges associated with conducting a presidential preference poll, electing national delegates and Democratic National Committee people, nominating a U.S. Senate candidate and making decisions on issues at the state convention.

    Where the Action Is
    State conventions are a political Mecca – it’s an opportunity for elected officials and candidates, past and present, to connect with supporters and maybe raise some funds. Lobbyists, political pundits, staff and the media follow the politicians. With a captured market in the thousands at the convention, the political button and T-shirt vendors fill the hallways. Intermingled with the vendors are special interest groups either trying to recruit members or asking for signatures on petitions.

    The state convention is usually the biggest political shindig for Democrats in a presidential election year, but this time it will be outshined by the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Aug. 25-28.

    The World Arena can only hold 9,000 people, so the state party has to rent a tent to accommodate expected over-flowing crowds.

    Presidential Campaigns Will Be There in Force
    Delegates to the state convention are going to select the delegates to the national convention. Although state delegates were chosen from their county assemblies last month based on their preference between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the delegates are not bound to their original choice – meaning Clinton and Obama could gain or lose delegates in this final round. To be sure, the two presidential campaigns will try to out-do each other in attracting new converts.

    Elections and Selections Fill Menu
    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. Some of the national convention delegates will be selected at earlier congressional conventions, but that will make the contest for the remaining seats even more intense on May 17.

    At the state convention, Rep. Mark Udall presumably will get the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Three DNC seats will be determined as well. State convention delegates will also vote on the party platform. It is not uncommon to have a controversy over its content.

    Not quite finalized are the plans on how the state party will count the votes of these elections.

    Unknowns May Test Organizers’ Mettle
    Experienced volunteers and state party officials organize the state convention, but it will be difficult to predict and plan for all the unexpected nuances that can occur when dealing with so many people and conducting complicated party business.

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