Insiders Predict Chaos at State Dem Convention

    What is expected at the Democratic state convention in Colorado Springs Friday and Saturday besides 10,000 participants, political VIPs, vendors and media? Some delegates are planning for “chaos.” The convention and assembly are the pinnacle of the state party’s role in the political process leading up to November’s election. Of the event’s two components, delegates are selected to the national convention based on presidential preferences, and the assembly activities include nominating candidates for legislative, congressional and U.S. Senate seats for the Aug. 12 primary ballot and approving the issues platform.

    State delegates come from all 64 counties, and delegation sizes are based on population and Democratic voting successes in the 2004 gubernatorial election. Because of the high interest in this year’s presidential election, counties will be sending full delegations to the state convention, something that has not always occurred in the past. Normally, attendance is closer to 6,000 delegates and visitors. Democratic conventioneers and visitors are expected to spill out of the World Arena into a tent in the parking lot since the Colorado Springs facility won’t be able to hold all of the expected crowd of 10,000.

    Inputting thousands of names of all the delegates to the state convention has been a monumental task, too, and perhaps not all that successful since some delegates may not received their credentials or the convention agenda before they arrive in Colorado Springs.

    “The party had volunteers input the delegate information from the county conventions and some people fell through the cracks, obviously,” said Harvie Branscomb, an Eagle Democrat who served on the platform committee. “At the Congressional District 2 convention last weekend, it was apparent that our delegate lists from the state were incomplete. Luckily, county chairs brought their own delegate lists, which had the correct information.”

    Joe Beaver, a delegate to the CD7 convention held last weekend, too, experienced the same difficulties. “I have one word to describe what I expect at the state convention: chaos.”

    Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak admitted that state delegates may find the check-in process confusing. “We have had some complications sending out the information to delegates, so we’ve asked the county chairs for their assistance in contacting their delegates directly.”

    Waak said some delegates may not get their credentials through the mail in time for the convention, so the party will reissue credentials at the check-in starting on Friday for Saturday’s event. County chairs are bringing in back-up delegate lists in case the state party’s records are incomplete. “I know people are getting a little anxious about what to expect at the check-in. I ask everyone to keep cool and calm.”

    The Democratic state convention agenda and check-in information are available here.

    Branscomb is also concerned about the national delegate selection process for the Democratic National Convention in Denver Aug. 25-28. “The bar codes used to identify candidates create an optical illusion when placed on the ballot page on the computer screen. I couldn’t tell who I voted for because my “x” disappeared on the page.” For back-up, the party is planning to hand-count ballots for the national delegates – another monumental task since nearly 1,800 national delegate hopefuls have signed up to compete for 12 open at-large slots.

    State convention delegate and longtime Democratic activist Julia Hicks also anticipates problems at the convention. “Things are going to be crazy, but what do you expect? We’re Democrats.”