Democrats convene Saturday

Delegates selected at last month's caucuses will gather over the next three weeks at their county conventions in the next step toward the nomination of presidential candidates from the two major parties.

Douglas Democrats will gather at Carson Valley Middle School in Gardnerville on Saturday to select delegates to the state convention and hammer out planks for the party's platform.

Registration for the convention starts 5 p.m. Friday at Douglas County Democratic headquarters in Minden and continues at the middle school from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday.

Convention chairman Chris Lund said he is expecting at least 200 Democrats at the convention, including the roughly 160 delegates, observers and representatives of candidates. No alternates have been determined for delegates. Lund said Democrats who participated in the caucus are eligible as alternates in their precinct for their candidates.

While delegates from the caucuses were selected to represent candidates, they will not be bound to those delegates when they arrive at the county convention.

"When it gets to the convention level, you have a situation where some candidates are not going to be viable, then you have delegates who are representatives of a precinct who will not have a vote," Lund said. "Non-binding allows delegates to horse trade."

For example, Democrats selected a dozen delegates for Sen. John Edwards, who dropped out of the race. Those delegates will be wooed by both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama camps. To Clinton, the 12 delegates are the difference between tying or losing Douglas County.

Lund said the Democratic convention will be open to the public, but only delegates may participate.

"There's such competition going on that we don't want to open ourselves up to the liability of an audit by candidates and not have our ducks in a row," Lund said. "We want to do everything right, so completely it is a transparent process, starting at the precinct level so that if someone has a question so we can trace it all the way through."

Four candidates will be on the Democrats' menu on Saturday, including Obama, Clinton, Edwards and Mike Gravel, who received no delegates in the caucus.

Lund said he has been registered as a Republican and an independent in the past and this is his first close encounter with party politics.

"This is my first real foray into grassroots politics," he said. "What's amazing is the and all the time and effort volunteers have put in to make this happen."

In addition to determining which candidates the precincts are aligned with, Douglas Democrats will chose 53 delegates to go on to the state convention.


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