Delegates gather to choose candidate

March 29, 2008 5:20:47 PM PDT
Long lines and lots of waiting. Texas Democrats are now getting together again to take the next step in choosing a presidential candidate. They're getting ready for the state conventions, gathering in basketball gyms, churches, and courthouses across the state. They're deciding who will win more presidential delegates -- Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton.

On Saturday, the parking lot at Delmar Stadium was packed and the bleachers full, not for any sporting event, but a political event, an old process with a lot of new participants. The convention for Senate District 15 was moved from a high school to the stadium to handle heavy participation.

"This is our 'Plan B,'" said Michael Leman with the credentials committee. "That's what we're doing now, is we're calling down precincts one by one at each table and working with each delegation."

These voters are delegates from the crowded precinct caucuses. This weekend, more long lines, a long wait, and more than a little confusion when some delegates tried to sign in to represent their precincts.

"They had it listed, where everybody who was with Obama, they had for Clinton and I have a problem with that," said precinct delegate Willie Hunter.

That's the kind of problem handled by the party's credentials committee, which can check the original paperwork from the precinct caucus. Leman sits on that committee.

"I've been the yelling post for a few people, but overall everyone is still in a good mood," he said. "They're happy to be here. They feel like they're part of the process for once.

Many voters we talked to said they are prepared to spend several hours there, that this is democracy in progress.

"We have a special water that my wife uses," said precinct delegate Carter Taylor. "We have enough here to eat for lunch."

"I'm rolling with it, honey,: said precinct delegate Arnie Hinojosa. "I'm retired. I can wait it out, enjoy it."

The delegate conventions were moved to bigger venues after the turnout for the precinct caucuses on March 4 when people waited in lines for hours to be a part of them. Two-thirds of the awarded presidential delegates are from the results of the primaries and the other one-third comes from the caucuses.

Early returns from the conventions have Clinton leading in selected delegates.

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