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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Clearing Up Convention Confusion

I've been getting a lot of questions about Thursday's Democratic nominating convention for the March 5 supervisor election. I'm credentials committee co-chair so I kinda sorta know what's going on. So here's the facts for my tens of readers.

Where and when?

Thursday, Jan. 31 at Northwest Junior High. Convention begins at 7. Sign in is from 6 to 7:30.

I've heard both that this is open to the public and not open to the public.

Official events of the Johnson County Democratic Party are open for public attendance. We may have some guests on hand, including new Iowa Democratic Party chair Tyler Olson and Secretary of State candidate Brad Anderson.

However, ONLY persons who were elected as delegates or alternates on presidential caucus night will be seated and allowed to vote and otherwise participate. (You do not need to be a delegate to be a candidate, but you need to be nominated by a delegate.) This is both a matter of party rules and state law.

If you are not a delegate or alternate and want to attend, feel free--but do so with the full understanding that you will not be seated or allowed to vote or otherwise participate. For example, questions and discussion about the candidates will be limited to the seated delegates.

Also understand that the ONLY item of business is the nomination of our candidate for Supervisor. There will be no platform discussion, party rules/constitution changes, etc.

Will the alternates get seated?

No promises... but in my 20+ years as a JCDem every alternate who showed up at a county convention has been seated as a delegate, with the sole exception of 2008 when the presidential nomination was still up in the air. This convention is interesting, but not Barack vs. Hillary interesting. So alternates, I strongly encourage you to be there.

Who's running?

Any Democrat can get nominated from the floor. Four people have expressed interest: Mike Carberry, Terry Dahms, Ron O'Neil and Dawn Suter.

Who are you endorsing?

The Democratic nominee. Nice try.

What about the Republicans?

You'd have to ask them.  The filing deadline is February 7 and as of this writing I see no mention of a convention, Their central committee meets Monday, February 4.

I heard the convention isn't a secret ballot.

That's correct. Under Democratic party rules, delegate is a representative function. I was elected a delegate and caucus night for a two year term, I represent the Democrats of my precinct at conventions, and I'm accountable to them at the next caucus.

Theoretically, someone could look at the ballots. However, that's another thing I've only seen once in 20 years. Sunday night Carberry, Dahms and Suter issued a joint statement:
We have joined together to urge you to attend the Johnson County Democratic Special Convention, which is this Thursday night, January 31st. The convention is at Northwest Junior High in Coralville. Registration begins at 6:00pm; the convention begins at 7:00pm.

During the convention, we will be using numbered ballots. As you may know, party rules do not make these ballots completely confidential, as someone can request to see the ballots, which have the delegate/alternate's number on them. We want to assure you that none of us will request to look at these ballots to determine an individual's vote, and we urge all other Democrats to follow suit.

Your attendance at convention is more important to us than anyone knowing for whom you voted.

With the political news of recent days, Johnson County Democrats are even more important to the future of Democrats in Iowa. We hope to have a great convention to kick off the up-coming election adventures.

We pledge to you that we will not ask to look at the convention ballots, and encourage no one else to ask for the ballots.

We hope to see you Thursday night -- regardless for whom you vote for at convention.

Mike Carberry
Terry Dahms
Dawn Suter
(O'Neil hasn't formally announced but I sent him a copy. )

Are you gonna live blog this thing?

I have a lot of work to do but I'll update when I can.

So that's the question's I'm getting so far, but there's room for more in the comments.

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