Clark County Brawl

Yesterday I saw some headlines from dubious sources exclaiming that Sanders had won the Nevada caucus (formerly won by Clinton) because of a “recount.” I couldn’t find anything about this from standard media sources, so I shrugged it off.

However, some kind of shit went down in Nevada yesterday that probably needs attention paid to it.

After encountering a Clinton supporter outraged about Sanders “stealing” Nevada, I thought I’d look into What Actually Happened. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

According to this article, the Nevada Democratic Party has a three-part system for choosing delegates to the national convention. This is not the first year they’d used this three-part process.

The first step is the caucus, which happened in February.  Clinton won the caucus with 52.7 percent of the vote.  This gave Clinton 20 delegates and Sanders 15 delegates. This has not changed, nor has that vote been challenged as far as I know.

What happened yesterday was the second step, county conventions. The counties hold conventions to choose delegates to the state convention, which will be held in May. The state convention allocates 20 more delegates. From the Nevada state website:

On caucus day, Nevadans in each precinct elect delegates to their respective county conventions, but the winner of the caucuses will be the candidate who accrues the most delegates.

Any caucus participant may stand for election as a delegate to the county convention.   Anyone who wants to be elected a national delegate must participate in the precinct caucuses, and each subsequent event –county convention on April 2, 2016, and the state convention on May 14 and 15, 2016.

So, caucus participants are supposed to show up at the count convention to be considered for the national convention. But if they fail to show up, alternates may be chosen. Kathy Gill explains,

Both campaigns had fewer delegates and alternates show up for the event than were elected in February. But Clinton had a greater drop-off than Sanders.

Delegates pledge to attend the next meeting; otherwise, why would anyone vote for them?

So what causes a drop-off? Arm-twisting in February? Maybe. A change of heart since February? Maybe. Getting sick, unexpected need to work, sudden disinterest, family emergency, called out of town? All possible. That’s why there are alternates — when a precinct delegate doesn’t show up, the alternate takes that slot so that the “vote” isn’t lost. …

Both the February and April events were non-binding presidential preference caucuses. Delegates selected in April can change allegiance before the June vote.

Seems to me that if the Clintonistas want to blame somebody, it would be the Clinton caucus delegates who failed to show up.

So, it is possible the state convention could give the state to Sanders, but it hasn’t happened yet. And, apparently, the February caucus was never meant to be the final word on how delegates are to be allocated.

The Clark County convention apparently was a near-riot. Clark County is home to Las Vegas, so it’s the big enchilada in Nevada. I am hearing all kinds of rumors about people being told to show up at the wrong place (so they couldn’t vote) and bus loads of homeless people being given the other candidate’s T-shirts and told how to vote to get a hot meal. Until I get some solid corroboration for those rumors, I am ignoring them.

And reporting on this event has been sparse and sloppy, so even news story “facts” are untrustworthy. I can’t tell from articles if the convention yesterday was all of the counties’ conventions, and they were all held in Clark County (which makes no sense) or if they are really just talking about the Clark County convention.

This is the news story that, apparently set off alarm bells:

Nearly 9,000 delegates were elected on caucus day in late February, but only 3,825 showed up to Saturday’s convention. An additional 915 elected alternates and 604 unelected alternates also turned out to support their favored candidate.

The final delegate count was 2,964 for Sanders and 2,386 for Clinton. That means the Sanders campaign will send 1,613 delegates to the state convention, while the Clinton campaign will send 1,298.

“We pretty much won Nevada,” said Sanders’ state director, Joan Kato, smiling as the results were announced.

What that means is the delegates from Clark County — along with the delegates selected by Nevada’s other counties Saturday — will attend the state convention in May, where they will help select delegates to go to July’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. But, because of the way delegate-selection rules work in Nevada, they will only get to decide the proportion of 12 delegates — five pledged party leaders and elected official delegates and seven at-large delegates — that go to each candidate.

So, Sanders may or may not get enough of those additional 12 delegates to pull ahead of Clinton in Nevada. We won’t know until May. No doubt yesterday went to his advantage, though.

Anyway — part of yesterday’s issue was that the chair of the Clark County credentials committee, Christine Kramar, was removed from her position because of a demand from the Clinton campaign. Kramar is known to be a Sanders supporter, but she insists she was being neutral.  The Clinton campaign accused her of violating rules in a way that hurt the Clinton campaign.

This blog post has a letter allegedly from Clinton lawyers regarding Kramer. The letter says Kramar exposed Clinton “campaign information and data by unilaterally adding a representative of Senator Sanders’ campaign into a chain of email correspondence between [Hillary for America] the Clark County Democratic Party and the Nevada State Democratic Party. ”

Whether these charges are true or not, I do not know.

This video shows Kramer being removed from an “emergency meeting” that allegedly was made up of Clinton supporters.

I understand she also had to be removed from the convention floor later, but that’s not clear. Anyway, Clinton supporters are pointing to Kramer as evidence the vote was rigged, but it appears the real problem was that Clinton delegates were AWOL. And the rules don’t bind convention delegates to the caucus votes.

And, y’know, sometimes people change their minds.

11 thoughts on “Clark County Brawl

  1. All of which points out how the lack of standardization in election rules from party to party – state to state – and election to election – make for a cluster flock every 4 years.

  2. Add another item to Clinton’s list of great but indefinable “achievements”, I guess.

  3. This does not sound like a process to get anything meaningful done. In fact, it makes me think of super delegates. And that makes me think voting does not matter as much as it might.

  4. One of my friends in Nevada is a county delegate for Sanders, and she noted that a lot of her fellow Sanders delegates got phone calls from the pro-Clinton county committee head in their county telling them that they didn’t need to show up for the convention. It seems that there was a lot of dirty tricks going on all over Nevada.

    The one thing that *all* of the delegates agreed upon by the end of her county’s convention, and passed a resolution to that effect, was that this whole caucus thing was a mess. Nevada has traditionally been a primary state, not a caucus state, and nobody has any experience running a caucus and thus it turned into this big fiasco. They called for a return to the primary system for selecting delegates to the national convention. I doubt it’s going to happen though because oddly enough the state Democratic Party prefers caucuses. I suppose because it allows party insiders more control over how delegates get selected or something. Bizarre.

  5. “All of which points out how the lack of standardization in election rules from party to party – state to state – and election to election – make for a cluster flock every 4 years”

    You’re right though I believe it’s by design, how can the party bosses pick and choose who they want if the process is straight forward and only involves the actual counting of the vote?

  6. My state’s Dems switched from primary to caucus eight years ago, and I hate it. Rather than quietly going into a booth for 90 seconds after work on a Tuesday, I’d have to spend an entire Saturday evening standing around some dusty grade-school auditorium, listening to people scream at each other. Then, sometimes, they rig the count.

    At least Sanders won my state, even without my participation. But it’s a set-up that begs for abuse and cheating.

  7. Here in Washington, we have the caucus which I don’t participate in because I don’t like the process. For the election, we have mail-in ballots which I love. Ballots are mailed, along with a booklet explaining the issues and the positions of both sides. I can take my time studying them, fill out the ballot and either mail it in or take it to one of several drop boxes. Stress free!!!

  8. Pingback: How The Primaries Don’t Work, Colorado Edition | The Mahablog

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