Florida Democrats select party delegates

03/03/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Although there is still considerable question whether they’ll be seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, registered Florida Democrats throughout the state came out this past Saturday to vote in caucuses to select delegates for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Based on the results of the Jan. 29 primary, Clinton received 67 district level delegates, Obama got 41, and John Edwards won 13.

Depending on what happens in tomorrow’s crucial primaries, those 67 for Clinton could decide the nomination if she remains viable.

The caucus for the 11th Congressional District took place at the Hillsborough County Government Center in downtown Tampa.

Any registered Democrat in the 11th Congressional District could vote on Saturday, and about 280 people did, ccording to Monroe Mack, Hillsborough State Committeeman.

Democrats who went to the 26th floor of the County Center could go into one room to get a ballot to vote for Obama delegates, or another room to vote for Clinton delegates.

Because Obama won the district last month, there were three delegates and one alternate delegate slot among 15 people running. For Clinton, who won two delegates , 17 people vied for the one male slot and one female slot.

Tampa area activist Gerald White has been known for pulling out all the stops to get elected as a delegate; he has represented Hillsborough and the 11th District on 4 previous occasions. A Clinton supporter, he had a table of Hillary paraphernalia at one corner of the County center’s lobby.

At the opposite spectrum in terms of experience was 23 year old Hillsborough Community College student Amanda Campo, running for the very first time as a delegate. She also supports Hillary Clinton.

Neither White nor Campo were elected, however. The female Clinton delegate slot went to Cathy Bartolotti, who has been active in Hillsborough Democratic Politics for three decades. The male delegate slot went to Alan Clendenin.

The 11th Congressional District has been redrawn rather creatively. In addition to covering a good portion of Hillsborough County, it slithers through parts of St. Petersburg and even a bit of Manatee County.

Norman Roberts was named as the Alternative Female Delegate for Barack Obama.

Patricia Kemp, vice chair of the Hillsborough Democratic Party Executive Committee, won the regular female delegate slot. Jim Jackson and Jerel McCants were the two male delegates.

Famed adult business entrepreneur and lately perennial candidate for local office Joe Redner was running as an Obama delegate. He believes that the Illinois senator’s message will resonate if he’s the Democratic nominee.

Former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. She agrees with the perception among Clinton supporters, articulated by the New York Senator in last week’s debate in Cleveland, that Clinton doesn’t get a fair break from the media.

Of course, at this time, there is no guarantee that the delegates selected on Saturday in Tampa and throughout the state will actually be allowed to enter the Pepsi Center in Denver, the site of the Democratic Convention.

Democrats – both Obama and Clinton supporters, all said they believed the delegates would be selected.

But since the 67 delegates won by Clinton might be the difference – even though the DNC said it would not count because of the early primary dates, not seating any delegates would benefit Barack Obama. Only one Democrat, Obama supporter Rosie Meadows, was willing to say on the record to WMNF that she doesn’t believe they should count.

One man responsible for possibly having the courts settle the delegate seating issue, Tampa political consultant VicDiMaio, said whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, he believes the winning formula for Democrats this year will be tying John McCain to the policies of George W. Bush.

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