Thursday, March 13, 2008

Iowa County Conventions on Saturday

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

As we've been writing ever since John Edwards dropped out of the race, his 14 estimated national delegates are up-for-grabs at the Iowa County Conventions this Saturday:

Iowa, which first voted on Jan. 3, holds county conventions this weekend in familiar locales the candidates remember well, like Des Moines.
Most years, the complexities of party caucuses don't generate much interest after the campaigns have moved on. "This year, they will be fighting over every delegate," said Norm Sterzenbach, political director of the Iowa Democratic Party.
In Iowa, precinct caucuses were held Jan. 3 to select delegates to county conventions this weekend. The county conventions will select delegates to congressional district conventions in April and the state convention in June.

National delegates are elected at the congressional district and state conventions — the third step of the process. If all the delegates for each candidate show up at every step, the national delegates awarded Jan. 3 will remain unchanged.

But if one side is unable to rally its supporters at any step along the way, it risks losing national delegates.

Obama won the Iowa caucuses in January, picking up 16 national delegates. Clinton came in third, winning 15. Under Iowa's quirky system, Clinton won one more delegate than Edwards, even though Edwards got the second most votes. Edwards' delegates — and the chance to win them over — will add intrigue to the Iowa conventions.

"Absolutely they're fair game," said Karen Hicks, a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign. "We are reaching out to a lot of them, trying to persuade them to join our team."

Both campaigns have been working behind the scenes in Iowa for several weeks, rallying supporters to attend the conventions on Saturday. "We are doing what we can to make sure we hold onto all the Obama folks," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

Hmmm, the Clinton people are going after the Edwards delegates, but the Obama people are trying to hold onto their own???

But then, working in Obama's favor:
Obama's campaign still has a couple of paid staff members working in Iowa. Hillary Clinton's campaign sent an email to supporters in Iowa, urging them to be active in this weekend's Democratic county conventions but she has no paid staff remaining in the state.
Clinton has no paid staff in Iowa? Sounds like the opposite of what happened in Colorado, and, frankly, we'd like to see confirmation of it.

There are 29 national delegates chosen at the Congressional District conventions, and 16 national delegates chosen at the State convention. Edwards currently has 9 estimated delegates at the CD level, and 5 at the state level. (Green Papers)

We'll repeat what we wrote on Tuesday:
Edwards now has about 30% of the total delegates to the county conventions. But remember, a candidate must achieve the 15% threshold at every level.
So Edwards needs 15% at any County Convention to put county delegates through to the next round. The conventional assumption was that he wouldn't get it in enough counties to achieve 15%. But will that be the case? One Edwards county leader, is trying to keep his delegates together:
Well, in my county – Johnson County, home of the University of Iowa – the Edwards delegation (which, for full disclosure, I lead) will attempt to remain together, to elect our own delegates pledged to Edwards to the District and State conventions. If we are successful in doing this, and if Edwards supporters in other counties in our district do the same, the Edwards delegation could be a major factor in determining what happens in April and June. We may get to elect our own national convention delegates or we may end up aligning with one of the other candidates, providing a significant boost to him or her.
One other note from Redlawsk, which gives a hint at how this may all play out:
Interestingly, at least locally, only the Obama campaign has been making efforts to woo Edwards delegates. The Clinton campaign seems to be completely missing in action. If this is the case throughout Iowa, don’t be surprised if in April Obama is able to pad his delegate count by strategically continuing to campaign for the hearts and minds of county, district, and state convention delegates.
Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow, and we hope to have results here on Saturday.

Update: Edwards co-chairs have asked all Edward's delegates to stay with Edwards on Saturday.


sunkissed said...

Steve Ohlemacher's AP report suggests that the national delegates awarded on Jan 3rd will remain unchanged if all delegates show up for every stage of the caucus process. According to the Iowa Democratic Party delegate selection process

#4 on page 6-7 says that a delegate is not required to align with the same performance group that selected them. In other words, the delegates reporting to their county conventions this Sat. do not have to stick with the candidate whose group selected them on Jan. 3rd.

I believe this is why the Obama camp is saying that they want to "hold onto all the Obama folks."

I don't know what the odds are that someone or some group will flipflop (outside of Edwards' supporters who may see it as a futile effort) for we all know each other and we know where each other lives but wouldn't it then be a possibility that the Jan 3rd awarded delegates could change even if every delegate shows up?

I know what most people think of the "meeting of the tribal chiefs" caucus process but I will tell you this (not in defense of it): 1. It demands participation 2. Talk about walking into a room in front of friends, relatives, neighbors, clients and baring your political soul...that takes some guts and you don't do it without thinking, reading, listening and educating yourself.

Roehl Sybing said...

Iowa may very well serve as a bellwether for the rest of the nominating process. Hillary supporters are desperate to hold onto the talking point that delegates AT ANY level can defect from the Obama camp to theirs. While possible, we will find out at the county conventions if it is probable by testing how committed Obama's supporters are long after the voting is finished.

sunkissed said...

According to todays Des Moines Register, First Lady Mari Culver, a one time Edwards supporter, is being heard on automated phone messeges asking Edwards supporters to back Obama. Gov. Chet Culver endorsed Obama in Feb. I also believe DNC superdelegate Sarah Swisher (IA) is one of 6 supers to have changed her endorsement to Obama.
I don't know if the committment test is in the Obama camp as much as the other two. Time will tell.

KCinDC said...

Yes, it's a little strange to view this as a test of the commitment of the delegates supporting the candidate who's ahead rather than of those supporting the candidate who's losing and the one who's suspended his campaign.