Attention is starting to turn to the upcoming April 3 citywide primary election and the May 15 special election for a Ward 5 council member. But another election approaches still more quickly: This Saturday, city Democrats will vote on 14 delegates to send to September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Any of the city’s approximately 342,000 registered Democrats is able to show up at Building 46E of the University of the District of Columbia, on Connecticut Avenue NW at Windom Place, and vote between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
There will be a many, many speeches from the approximately 90 candidates vying for the slots as well as from assorted Democratic dignitaries, but you don’t have to listen to them; you can vote and leave.
Why might you want to weigh in on which city Democrats will cast fait accompli ballots in favor of Barack Obama’s renomination for the presidency?
If you’re like the vast majority of city Democrats, you probably have next to nothing at stake and won’t bother — which is fine, as Building 46E probably can’t accommodate 342,000 people.
But one group of delegate candidates is hoping to make a point Saturday. “51st State for Obama,” one of several candidate slates, is selling itself as a group of grassroots political outsiders “who strongly support the re-election of Barack Obama, statehood for the District, and truly comprehensive ethics reform in D.C. politics and governance.”
Slate members are aggrieved that mostly political insiders — including two D.C. Council members, Ward 2’s Jack Evans and Ward 8’s Marion Barry — are among those pursuing delegate slots Saturday. (Jim Graham of Ward 1 initially indicated he would seek one of the 14 elected slots but has withdrawn from consideration.)
Do note: The mayor, D.C.’s delegate to Congress and its shadow senators are guaranteed spots in the District delegation as unpledged superdelegates. There is also a separate category for “party leaders and elected officials,” but there are only three such slots, with citywide officeholders getting first dibs. Those will be selected by the members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee on May 3, along with an additional five at-large delegates.
In other words, if you’re a ward council member who wants a spot in the District delegation, you most likely have to run like a regular citizen. “51st State for Obama” would prefer those slots go to regular citizens.
”I understand our council members want to be a representative of D.C. at the convention. It’s a huge honor to do so,” said delegate candidate Markus Batchelor, a former D.C. youth mayor who now attends George Washington University. But, he said, “the constituents, the regular people in D.C. should be representing the District. The convention is about regular people coming together, rallying around our president and our party, driving us toward the election. It’s not a convention for the political elite.”
So if you strongly agree or disagree with young Mr. Batchelor and his comrades, perhaps you might think about heading up to UDC this weekend.
A program note: The DCDSC is offering an accommodation for orthodox Jews who will be unable to vote Saturday for religious reasons. You can vote at the local party offices at 1050 17th St. NW, Suite 1000, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday. Executive Director Bill O’Field asks you set for an appointment, however, by calling (202) 714-3368 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.