Monday, March 31, 2008


I don’t know if it’s the Clinton campaign, but someone is challenging Obama delegates. I just looked at a list of 38 challenged delegates in Skagit County. Every one questions the validity of an Obama delegate. There are no challenges against Clinton delegates...

...This really appears to be less an issue of voter misconduct or sloppy record keeping then it is about an aggressive, post-caucus attempt by Clinton supporters to increase their numbers before the next round of caucuses.
If it is the Clinton campaign pursuing these kinds of challenges at the upcoming Legislative District and County caucuses and conventions (and it's hard to imagine who else it might be), well, it's just another demonstration of their general inability either to grasp or to implement the kind of grassroots, neighbor to neighbor campaign that a successful caucus strategy requires.

They can file all the challenges they want, but you can bet the majority of them, when examined by the local credentials committees, will be denied. It's safest to expect the most expansive view of the rules, and most of the surface sins the complaints seem to rest on, matters like dates of registration and voter names, will be resolved in the delegate's favor without much rancor. Where there is ground for real concern - delegates not residing in the precinct they were elected from, for instance - there will still be a bias in favor of the delegate, and of all the precinct delegates who sent her or him forward. That neighbor to neighbor business, after all, is real.

The final decision on credentials belongs to the body of delegates assembled. These meetings are often populated by folks who actually see quite a bit of each other, at Party meetings, perhaps, and fundraisers, and at the grocery store and gas station, too. The solution producing both the least political and, no less importantly, social friction will always be favored.In many, perhaps most, of these meetings, Obama delegates will predominate, and will finally determine who is seated. When all else fails, every delegate has a corresponding alternate.

Challenges are the weakest strategic approach to a contest that's almost entirely turnout driven. The negligible gains that might be made by bogging down the process with a credentials fight don't mean a great deal in the first place, and even less if your own troops aren't on hand for the battle. The Clinton campaign's efforts would be better invested in stopping their own delegates, like Karina Putnam-Kaminsky, from taking Hillary's advice, which is true enough, that their pledges aren't binding too much too heart and signing in for Barack in a couple weeks. Of course, for every one of those there's some number larger than one more who simply won't show up, a number I suspect will grow as the desperation of the Clinton camp becomes continually clearer.

Don't beleive any national convention delegate count you've seen from Washington. This one's really just getting started.

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