Local takes one last chance to vote for Hillary Clinton

Moses Ross will be a Democratic National Convention delegate

By Shasta Kearns Moore
The Southwest Community Connection, Aug 1, 2008
Original story here

(news photo)
Capitol Hill resident Moses Ross, here in Multnomah Village, is the only male delegate elected from Oregon's first congressional district who is pledged for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Aug. 25 to 28. Choosing delegates is a complicated process involving intra-party elections of local representatives to the convention.

Shasta Kearns Moore / The Southwest Community Connection

MULTNOMAH - New York Sen. Hillary Clinton may have won nearly 18 million votes in her failed bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination, but Capitol Hill resident Moses Ross is just as proud of the 18 votes he won in order to represent her at the Democratic National Convention.

Although Clinton's campaign has been suspended, she hasn't yet given up the delegates that those millions of votes represent. Her delegates will convene along with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's delegates in Denver, Colo., Aug. 25 to 28, where they will officially select the Democratic Party's candidate for president.

A local party activist and a longtime Clinton supporter, Ross said he is looking forward to being a part of this democratic process.

"Symbolically, we're the representatives of Hillary Clinton in this neighborhood," he said. "I take pretty seriously the fact that this is not Moses Ross being represented, this is about the people in the first CD (congressional district) being represented."

But he also said he sees it as an opportunity to support a positive role model for his mother and daughter.

"They motivated me to do this because I want a better life for them," he said. "When I look at my 3-year-old daughter and the ground that Hillary broke, I'm proud to be a part of that."

Who gets to be a delegate?

Ross was chosen as a district-level delegate for Oregon's first congressional district through an election process at Beaverton's Aloha High School June 7. The district convention was the most widely attended in the state, attracting 306 voters, according to the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO).

"We had double or triple the people at the district conventions this year," said DPO spokesman Marc Siegel, crediting the "intense" Democratic presidential primary race for heightening awareness of this process. "It had been 40 years since Oregon's primary had mattered."

But to those outside of the party process - and even to some inside of it - the process of electing people to be delegates at the national convention is complicated and confusing.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) chooses four kinds of delegates, though the method of selection varies by state.

The category that received wide attention in this election cycle was the so-called "superdelegate": what the DNC calls Party Leaders and Elected Officials or PLEO delegates. These include the Democrats in the state's congressional delegation, or other high elected or party offices, such as the governor.

These delegates were created in 1984 after a series of direct primary elections produced candidates that the Democratic leaders felt middle-of-the-road general elections voters wouldn't support, according to Congressional Quarterly.

The "superdelegates," which today make up about 20 percent of the total delegates, are uncommitted to any candidate and allowed to vote for whomever they want at the convention.

Those who are not predestined to be one of these delegates must be elected by party members.

There are district delegates, like Ross, and then there are state delegates who were chosen at the state convention June 21. The state delegates, or "at-large" delegates, are elected in a miniature version of the national convention: 300 delegates are elected from around the state at the district conventions and those people in turn choose the 19 delegates and four alternates from among themselves.

"It's just like a regular election," Ross said, adding that he called everyone registered as a Clinton supporter for the first congressional district convention and told them why he was the best person to represent them.

The final category is the "add-on" delegate: a person who party leaders want to have involved for one reason or another. In this state, the 2008 add-on delegate is former Gov. Barbara Roberts.

Ross said the process may be cumbersome, but he believes it's necessary.

"In any party, there's going to be an administrative process," he said. "It might not make a lot of sense, but it gives us the result that we're looking for."

The DPO's Siegel agreed, adding he doesn't expect the process to change any time soon.

"This process has worked for several decades and resulted in an incredible nominee in this history-breaking nomination process," he said, "so it's difficult to see any reason for change."

At the convention

As a pledged Clinton delegate, Ross might be in a tight position at the convention. Some pledged Clinton delegates have suggested that they storm the floor at the convention and fight for a Clinton presidential or vice presidential nomination.

But even though Ross is disappointed that Clinton didn't win the nomination, he said it's time to get behind the man who won the right to the most pledged delegates in the country.

"Personally," he said, "I'm not going to do anything crazy, like vote for McCain. Or hurt the Obama camp."

But is he still hoping to see Clinton's name underneath Obama's on the Democratic ticket?

"Yes, absolutely. I personally feel that would be the strongest ticket," he said with a wide smile, adding: "It would be better if it were reversed, of course."

Check It Out!

Follow Ross' progress at the convention through his Web site and blog, at www.mosesross.com.