Saturday, September 06, 2008

Art Torres to CA Delegates: Surprise! We’re not announcing your votes!

California Roll Call: Obama 273, Clinton 166

Here are the official results of the state tally sheets that were collected during voting during the Roll Call of States on Wednesday afternoon of the convention:

Barack Obama: 3188.5
Hillary Clinton: 1010.5

If you were watching the Roll Call of States, you saw that the Roll Call was never concluded and that California passed. The vast majority of the California delegates had no idea that Art Torres would pass (including me). When he did so, there was a lot of shock and surprise among us. All of the delegates who were there had voted (or had the chance to vote) at breakfast that morning.

Many of California’s Clinton delegates were very upset that California had passed. This act of passing stirred up a lot of anger among them in our delegation. (Remember that Clinton won the California primary.) Many believed that California had passed because such a large number of Clinton votes announced during the roll call would have been an embarrassment to Obama.

There was a significant number of Clinton delegates, apparently led by Gloria Allred, who were holding out for Clinton to the very end. Many sat together each day in several rows of the delegation seating in the Pepsi Center, holding signs in support of Clinton, and they had circulated a petition among delegates to allow Clinton’s name to be placed in nomination and for her roll call votes to be recorded.

Gloria Allred did her best to stir up controversy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, regarding what she felt was the “gagging” of the Clinton delegates. At the end of the delegation breakfast on Tuesday, she held a meeting to discuss why she was being gagged. One of her associates rudely interrupted Art Torres from the back of the room, while Art was speaking to the delegates during breakfast, to announce this meeting. Allred also attracted several TV reporters to interview her near our seats in the Pepsi Center. Right after one interview, she took off like a shot down onto the floor next to the stage, apparently to jump in front of another TV camera.

After the nomination of Barack Obama had been approved by voice vote on Wednesday, Barbara Boxer showed up near our seats and took a bit of heat from some of the upset delegates. She then moved around the California delegation and repeatedly told small groups of delegates why California had passed. It seemed to me that she was in an urgent quest to head off a potentially embarrassing dispute within the delegation, such as might occur (in my view) if delegates were to start running to reporters.

Boxer said that the “pass” was because the votes of most of the California Assembly and Senate members who were in Sacramento for the budget crisis had not been submitted yet. She also told everyone that the final count for California was Obama 273 and Clinton 166 (so by inference there were 2 not voting).

How did we cast our votes? The first task of almost every delegate each morning, prior to sitting down for breakfast in the adjacent ballroom, was to pick up his or her floor credential by showing ID and signing for it. On Wednesday morning, while picking up our credentials, we also voted for our candidates. The person issuing my credential to me had papers with delegates’ names listed alphabetically in a column down the left side and three columns of boxes (for Obama, Clinton and Other) on the rest of each sheet. I voted by printing an “X” in the Obama box next to my name and signing in a signature space.

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