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Texas' arcane delegate system suddenly comes into play

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_8224527 Texas arcane delegate system suddenly comes into play The Associated Press Article Launched: 02/10/2008 12:32:21 PM MST
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 10 12:47 PM
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      http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_8224527

      Texas' arcane delegate system suddenly comes into play
      The Associated Press
      Article Launched: 02/10/2008 12:32:21 PM MST

      AUSTIN—For the first time in 20 years, Texas will have
      a heated presidential primary election next month, a
      contest that will bring the state's complex primary
      and caucus system into play for Democratic hopefuls
      Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

      "Texas arguably has the most arcane system in the
      country," state Rep. Juan Garcia, D-Corpus Christi and
      an Obama backer, told the Houston Chronicle in a story
      published Sunday. "There are a lot of people
      scrambling to get smart on it in a hurry."

      The Democratic and Republican primaries in Texas are
      March 4. The Clinton-Obama tussle for national
      convention delegates is extremely tight, especially
      after Obama's victories Saturday in Nebraska,
      Washington and Louisiana.

      The last time the Texas Democratic convention
      delegation was at stake in the midst of a national
      fight was 1988. Michael Dukakis won the statewide
      primary that year but virtually split delegates evenly
      with Jesse Jackson because of the state' unique
      Democratic nominating process.

      Here's a short version of the party rules, which are
      11 pages long.

      A total of 126 delegates will be awarded based on the
      outcome of the vote in each of the 31 state senatorial
      districts.

      But the number of delegates available in each district
      is not equal: Delegates are allocated based on the
      votes cast in districts in the 2004 and 2006
      presidential and gubernatorial elections.

      In the heavily urban, African-American districts of
      state Sens. Rodney Ellis of Houston and Royce West of
      Dallas, a good voter turnout in the past two elections
      means a combined total of 13 delegates are at stake in
      the two districts on Election Day.

      Obama nationally has been winning eight out of 10 back
      voters, according to network exit polls.

      But in the heavily Hispanic districts of state Sens.
      Juan Hinojosa of McAllen and Eddie Lucio Jr. of
      Brownsville, election turnout was low, and a combined
      total of seven delegates are at stake.

      Clinton has been taking six of 10 Hispanic votes
      nationally. So a big South Texas win might not mean as
      much for Clinton as a big win for Obama in the two
      black districts.

      In 1988, Dukakis won the statewide primary with 33
      percent of the vote, followed by Jackson at 25
      percent. Al Gore had 20 percent and Richard Gephardt
      had 14 percent.

      But despite Dukakis' clear plurality victory, he split
      the state's delegates almost evenly. Dukakis took 72
      delegates, Jackson 67. Forty-four were uncommitted.

      "In '88, Jesse Jackson paid attention to the caucus
      process and had grass-roots organizers," said Garry
      Mauro, a former state land commissioner and Hillary
      Clinton supporter. "Dukakis did not pay attention to
      the caucus process."

      The state's Republican primary is not nearly as
      complicated. If the GOP race is still alive between
      Sen. John McCain, the front-runner, and former
      Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when the primary arrives,
      they will find an equal number of nominating delegates
      available in each of the state's 32 congressional
      districts.

      ———

      Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com
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