TX Dem. Party rejects Clinton's request

AUSTIN, TX State chairman Boyd Richie said Texas Democrats will not "set up an unnecessary, ad hoc 'verification' process that could effectively disqualify delegates selected at their precinct conventions after the fact."

An estimated 1 million people attended Democratic caucuses after the party's primary concluded March 4. Those caucuses began the selection of 67 pledged presidential delegates.

Clinton's campaign said in a letter to the state party Friday it wanted the signatures of those attending caucuses double-checked before county and senate district conventions convene later this month.

But Richie said the party conventions already have credentials rules in place to address complaints and problems.

The Clinton campaign said it received more than 2,000 complaints of violations following the historic Texas turnout and that it is the party's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the caucus process. Among the problems cited were caucuses starting before precinct polling places closed and results being taken from head or hand counts instead of a written roll.

In an unofficial and incomplete caucus tally, the state Democratic Party reported Barack Obama was ahead of Clinton with 56 percent to her 44 percent after 41 percent of precinct caucuses reported.

Clinton narrowly won the primary stage of the contest earlier in the day, which allocated 126 delegates.

"Our only concern is that the caucus outcome accurately reflect the voices of those who were eligible to participate," Adrienne Elrod, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman, said Monday.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said: "Our campaign agrees that the best way to capitalize on the incredible enthusiasm and hundreds of thousands of new voters who participated in the precinct conventions on March 4th is to count their votes promptly and accurately. We look forward to continuing to work with the Texas Democratic Party to ensure that happens."

Richie said state and local party officials are trying to build on the huge primary and caucus turnout to help Democrats in the fall general election and in 2010.

"We are proud of both our presidential candidates who helped create that turnout. We ask now that the campaigns work with us rather than become an impediment to this extraordinary opportunity to build our party," Richie said.

Texas Democrats are trying to regain power after losing all statewide offices to Republicans in 1998 and complete control of the Legislature in 2002.

Caucus attendance represented a tenfold increase over the previous high attendance mark for the party, Richie said.

"As expected in any record turnout involving hundreds of thousands of people, there were reports of problems caused by long lines and crowded facilities. These problems are not unique to Texas. Similar problems, in proportionately similar numbers, occurred in pure caucus states like Iowa and Nevada," Richie said.

He said most of the problems don't affect the legitimacy of delegate allocation.

Caucus delegates are awarded as a result of three stages: the precinct conventions, or caucuses, held election night; county and senate district conventions planned for March 29; and the state Democratic convention on June 6-7.

The candidate with the most supporters showing up at each convention level will benefit in the awarding of delegates.

State party spokesman Hector Nieto said Monday party officials are continuing to meet with the Clinton and Obama campaigns about the March 29 conventions. There is no plan at this time for the party to provide a statewide count of those regional convention results, he said.

*Are you a politics junkie? We have more political gems on our four political blogs written by a White House insider, PhD and Eyewitness News reporters.

Copyright © 2023 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.