DNC: Colorado Delegates Cast Votes, Upsetting Some Clinton Supporters
August 27, 2008
Colorado delegates cast their votes for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee at breakfast Wednesday morning, in a move that upset some supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
During the Colorado Democratic Party breakfast at the Grand Hyatt hotel, supporters of Clinton spoke in agitated tones in the hallway and supporters of Sen. Barack Obama said they hoped for party unity tonight.
Tensions ran high in part because of a reported confrontation between an Obama delegate and Clinton delegate Tuesday night on the floor.
For the most part, however, delegates seemed to accept the fact that their vote upon checking in after 7 a.m. would be their only one. Democratic Party officials are still negotiating how the dual nominations of Clinton and Obama will go down tonight, but early indications were that the morning vote, wherein delegates from each state were asked to mark their candidates on a piece of paper, would be the official tally.
When the roll call of the states begins tonight, delegates will not have a second vote to switch from Clinton to Obama or vice versa. It’s not clear through how many states the roll call will last or whether someone, like Clinton, will call for the vote to be stopped and for Obama to be nominated by ballot-free acclamation.
Either way, some Clinton delegates are feeling freshly bruised by the morning vote.
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“At least our voices are heard, I guess, but it’s not normal. Usually at a convention, they’ll do it on prime-time roll call,” said Jessica Clark, 29, a Clinton delegate from Parker. “There are definitely delegates who are disappointed.”
Brenda Krause, 55, a Clinton delegate from Colorado Springs, said she has mixed emotions about the vote, organized late Tuesday in meetings with Colorado and national Democrats.
“I don’t know what the process is going to be. But I feel vindicated that I put my ‘x’ by my candidate’s name, so everything I’ve been working for”for 10 months”culminated for me in that vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Krause said she’s not sure what she would do if asked to vote for Obama by acclamation.
“This has been a long process, and I’m just still trying to find out how I am feeling about all of this,” she said. “It’s kind of like a marriage and a divorce and a remarriage, you know? It takes a long time for some people to process all those feelings that you had for so long. So I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.”
Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said she wasn’t sure why some Clinton supporters were upset because she consulted them Tuesday evening before the morning vote. She said some people were understandably confused about the process.
“What you have is a delegation of 70 people and only 12 have ever been to a convention before,” she said.
She said the state, in which Obama delegates outnumber Clinton delegates almost 2-to-1, would put forth a unified front.
Gov. Bill Ritter snuck into the Hyatt after most delegates had left to cast his vote. He said Clinton herself helped immensely in that regard Tuesday night.
“This is a really big party with a really lot of delegates. People think of unity in terms of unanimity, but they’re not the same thing. There are outliers in any crowd you get in America,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is Hillary Clinton delivered her message, and she delivered it extremely well last night, that if you supported my life’s work in politics and the things I cared about, then you need to be with Barack Obama.”
Waak said state party officials got their nominating instructions and equipment late Tuesday, and were encouraged to tally their votes before getting to the floor at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“We kind of decided we would have everybody sign in as they came in this morning,” Waak said.
U.S. Rep. John Salazar said the decision surprised him and called it unusual.
“I think it’s part of the healing process. I think after tonight’s vote, we’re going to be a united party and support Obama,” he said, adding that he would support the vote. “A divided party will never win.”
Bob Kihm, an Obama delegate from Centennial, said he thought the morning vote was a good idea.
“There’s no sense, in the chaos of the floor and the convention, to do something that important,” he said.
Waak said emotions are running high in general, including a heated exchange Tuesday night on the floor between an Obama delegate and a Clinton delegate. Waak said she’s spoken to both people involved and is acting as a “mother hen” to a delegation of 70 people with varying viewpoints. Part of the problem stemmed from a lack of seating assignments on the first night, and some people were unhappy about where they landed.
“Nobody has had any sleep; we’re all very emotional,” she said. “Spirits are high … it’s like a family, everyone is in their corner with their own alliances.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for Senate, spoke at the breakfast and said afterward that Clinton made it clear Tuesday night that she supported Obama, and the party will come out a unified force by the end of the convention.
“By having a hard fight and then coming together like we’ve been this week, and hearing Sen. Clinton last night and hearing president Clinton tonight, Sen. Biden will give a rousing speech no doubt, a call to action, and Sen. Obama will tie it all together tomorrow night ” we’re going to leave here focused and on a mission. It’s too important.”
Clark said she cared too much about Democratic values to not come together.
“At least we got to vote for her,” she said. “We still believe in our party values, and we will do what Hillary Clinton tells us to do, for the most part.”