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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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March 31, 2008 10:32 AM

Obama caucus delegates face challenge

Posted by David Postman

Aimee Curl has a story at The Seattle Weekly about people elected in the Democratic presidential caucuses Feb. 9 who weren’t properly registered to vote or were elected from the wrong precinct.

Jim Sharpe, a member of Kitsap County's credentials committee, estimates that more than 10 percent of the 2,300 delegates and alternates elected in his county fit into one of these categories, with the vast majority falling into the former.
I’ve been hearing since days after the Feb. 9 caucus that supporters of Hillary Clinton were going to challenge Barack Obama delegates. But that’s always been denied by the Clinton campaign. Obama handily beat Clinton in the caucus. But even a shift of a few delegates could prove to be meaningful.

Clinton’s caucus organizer, Jim Kainber, wouldn’t tell Curl what the campaign was doing to vet delegates prior to the county and legislative caucuses.

He says it speaks to strategy.

I don’t know if it’s the Clinton campaign, but someone is challenging Obama delegates. I just looked at a list of 38 challenged delegates in Skagit County. Every one questions the validity of an Obama delegate. There are no challenges against Clinton delegates.

The spreadsheets show delegates challenged for one of three reasons; not registered to vote, caucusing in the wrong precinct, or the delegate name does not match the name on the voter registration roles.

This really appears to be less an issue of voter misconduct or sloppy record keeping then it is about an aggressive, post-caucus attempt by Clinton supporters to increase their numbers before the next round of caucuses.

I just talked to Dan O'Donnell about this. He’s the Skagit County Democrat’s credentials chairman.

The goal is transparent. They want to change the delegate ratio.

And what has he heard from Obama supporters wanting to challenge Clinton delegates?

Not a peep.

O’Donnell, 77, remains neutral in the presidential race. He said that was important for the credentials chairman, a job the veteran Democratic activist takes very seriously.

I’ve researched this so that we can run an unimpeachable credentials committee and avoid any possibility of a floor fight.

In doing that, O’Donnell has found little reason to think there will be any large number of delegates removed when Skagit County Democrats meet April 12th.

Sometimes, in an example he gave, a John W. Smith may have signed in as “Jack Smith.” A non-registered voter may be just 17 now, but will be 18 by Election Day and eligible to caucus.

And some people, particularly the elderly he said, may have gone to an old precinct location from prior to a recent realignment. If they can show that they attended at the location of their previous caucus, O’Donnell said they should be seated.

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