By Greg Giroux
It didn’t have the prominence of its presidential primary election earlier this month, but Texas Democrats this past weekend continued their complex and drawn-out process of apportioning national convention delegates to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
Texas Democrats held about 280 regional conventions on Saturday and Sunday – usually one for each of the state’s 254 counties, and others within state Senate districts that are in populous counties. The gatherings were the intermediate step in a three-tiered caucus process that began with precinct caucuses on March 4 – the same day as the presidential primary election, in which Clinton narrowly defeated Obama – and will end with the state Democratic convention June 5-7 in Austin. The state convention will confirm the 228 delegates who will attend the Democratic national convention in Denver Aug. 25-28.
While still incomplete, the weekend results indicate that Obama is likely to win a narrow majority of the 193 “pledged” Democratic delegates who will represent Texas at the national convention. Obama’s campaign said that he is on track to win 38 of the 67 Texas Democratic delegates who will be determined by the caucus process.
Clinton won the primary vote, 51 to 47 percent, and holds a 65-61 edge among the 126 primary delegates that were awarded at the district level. But Obama would overcome Clinton’s narrow lead if he wins 38 caucus-determined delegates.
Even if Obama wins 36 of those delegates at the state convention, he would still clinch a majority of the state’s 193 pledged delegates going to the national convention. Obama’s campaign issued a statement late Saturday that said the district and county conventions confirmed Obama’s “important delegate win in the Lone Star State.”
Clinton’s campaign issued a statement that said her operation could still gain a couple of additional delegates at the state convention and would “look forward to a strong showing at the Texas State Convention in June.”
Hector Nieto, the communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, said that about 100,000 Democrats participated in the high-turnout weekend conventions, which elected about 7,300 delegates to the state convention. Tallies by the Associated Press had Obama winning more than 55 percent of the delegates, though that the delegates are not officially bound to candidates and they could change their preference.
“Nothing is final until the state convention is over,” Nieto said.
Texas’ 228-member Democratic convention delegation is rounded out by 35 unpledged “superdelegates,” who are members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee and other party leaders and activists. At the moment, the Texas Democratic superdelegates are nearly evenly divided among those who are supporting Obama, those who are backing Clinton and those who have not yet committed to a candidate.