NC will choose at-large, PLEO, and add-on national convention delegates at the state convention in June,
but 77 congressional-district level delegates were elected Saturday in district conventions. My district
includes half of the black part of the capital city (Raleigh), where I am, and 8 nearby white rural counties. Its other bookend is adjacent to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. It is represented by a moderately liberal Democratic congressman but trends Republican for President. It had 6 DNC delegates and Obama won a very close 58% victory for a 4-2 split (57% would've been a tie).
Since it was 4-2, we had to elect 2 men and 2 women for Obama, and 1 man and 1 woman for Clinton.
Amazingly, only 1 woman had filed to be a Clinton delegate from our district; she was an African-
American county-commissioner from the part of the capital county (it's split between 3 CDs) that is in this district. Four men had filed for the other Clinton slot, but none of them bothered to show up!
This slot went to an elderly white man whose poor health was cited by his supporters as the reason he
failed to show; he beat the others because he had an excuse and they didn't.
For the Obama slots, we started out with 18 men and 11 women. The women's slots went to two longtime
African-American activists from opposite ends of the district, who won because they were the two who
could wave an email from the campaign staff testifying to how hard they had worked.
But I am posting this diary because of what happened on the male side. The 18 men were narrowed to 4,
3 black, one white. One of the black men was over 50 and had been a Jesse Jackson delegate in '88.
Another was under 30 and had put in a lot of volunteer hours at the Raleigh headquarters for this campaign, but was otherwise unfamiliar to convention delegates, especially those from the other 9 counties.
His wife was white, and had been the last white candidate remaining on the women's side, but had not won.
The white man was under 35 and is this state's leading gay rights activist of his generation,
but because his advocacy organization is technically non-partisan, his degree of campaign participation had been necessarily limited, and the cultural conservatism of the rural parts of the district could also have made him less than a favorite. The third black man was over 40 and from the military end of the district.
I was tasked with counting the votes from my urban county and I could see that the younger
candidates were doing well there, but I didn't know what to expect from the rural counties.
When the smoke cleared, the male slots had gone to:
- the youngest of the three black men running, the one who had worked the most hours on the campaign and had the white wife, and
- the gay white guy.
I have been going to district conventions in this part of the state ever since the lines were re-drawn in 1990
and if you had told me even 1 year ago that these longtime rural activists would give both of these slots to two urban first-timers, I would have laughed in your face. I just couldn't help thinking,
this is so very OBAMA. It was clear from the outcome that even the older delegates were feeling the new vibe, and were in tune with concepts like
- passing the torch to a new generation,
- rewarding outreach and co-operation across racial lines [believe me, there was a time when the black guy with the white wife would've found that a liability with people from both races], and
- voting our hopes instead of our fears and prejudices.
At age 48 I have some mixed feelings about having (in the past) seen national delegate elections won by people older than me, and now seeing them younger -- I did feel a little bit like I got skipped.
But it just so happened that I wasn't running this time (I was originally for Edwards and didn't quite feel invested in this campaign at that level), and I am extremely pleased by this outcome (I cast my 2 votes for the 2 guys who won).
Ian Palmquist is the first openly gay DNC delegate elected from this district.
Some concerned delegates of both races wondered afterward whether the gay white guy
might've won at least partly because he was white, but I refused to be bothered by that,
because even if it were true, it would still be progress: nobody before Obama had ever been able to move enough conservative white rural Democrats to achieve this.
Or maybe it was just that those Democrats were in the Clinton caucus.
In any case, regardless of the murky underlying causal factors,
This is "change you can be grateful you lived to see", and I truly am.
My only regret is that my 77-year-old mother (who is black but supports Hillary Clinton)
may not live to see a woman president.