By David Chan
Special to the Northwest Asian Weekly
Editor’s note: The following article represents the thoughts of a fire commissioner from Snohomish County and his experience trying to become a delegate for Bernie Sanders.
The Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia from July 25–28. This is my second article in a series about the 2016 presidential election, from the point of view of a Washington State Democratic Party member. I am sharing this journey with you in the hopes that you will get involved in our democratic process and go out and vote.
The delegate election process
There will be 4,764 delegates, mostly elected to represent their states to attend this Convention. 15 percent of those delegates are superdelegates — they are not elected and most of them are high-ranking members of the Democratic National Committee in each state and U.S. territory. At this time, 604 superdelegates have expressed support for Hillary Clinton and 47 support Bernie Sanders. The pledged delegates are bound by the candidate they have selected, but the superdelegates are unpledged and can vote any way they want.
In Washington State, we have elected 118 delegates for the National Convention. The number of delegates from each state is based on the number of the congressional districts in each state. A populous state like California will send 475 delegates.
Being one of the 118 Washington State delegates is not easy. We started with 27,000 precinct delegates elected back on March. I survived the first and second rounds of elimination. It felt like being on the reality show, Survivor. I got eliminated during the Congressional District selection. About 150 people competed for the three spots in the Congressional District. I was not selected.
The major duties of a delegate are to nominate the Democratic presidential candidate and approve the party platform.
Nominate the Democratic presidential candidate — In order to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, a candidate must win 2,383 delegates at the national convention. Since Clinton has already amassed more than 2,383 pledged delegates, she is the presumptive nominee. Furthermore, Sanders has formally endorsed her. However, there is still a chance that some disappointed Sanders delegates may cause some trouble.
Approve the party platform — The party platform outlines the Democratic Party’s priorities and positions on domestic and foreign affairs. A separate 15-person subcommittee produced the initial draft. The Sanders campaign has challenged many of the differences. During the last few weeks, staff at both campaigns hashed out the issues. “We got 80 percent of what we wanted in this platform,” said Warren Gunnels, a foreign policy adviser to Sanders. Two major issues that Sanders have moved Clinton to be included in the platform is the $15 minimum wage, and free education for families earning less than $125,000.
My goal is to attend some of the forums and discussions affecting Asian Pacific Americans and also interview as many of the delegates as much as possible.
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.