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DPVA 2012 Convention Delegate Selection Plan Commentary

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The Democratic Party of Virginia has posted its draft 2012 National Convention Delegate Selection Plan (“Plan”) for 30-day public comment (ending May 4, 2011) at the DPVA website, so please submit your comments.  As the drafter of the 2004 and 2008 Delegate Selection Plans, and someone who has been involved with the 2012 draft Plan, I offer an overview of the process and identification of important changes from our 2008 plan. 

Overview:  The 2012 Plan is substantially similar to the Plans the DPVA used in 2004 and 2008.  There will be a primary (March 6, 2012), which will allocate Virginia’s Democratic National Convention delegates among the presidential candidates.  If President Obama is the only candidate who files for the primary, the Democratic primary will be cancelled and the President will be awarded all of the delegates. 

The actual delegates who will attend the National Convention will be chosen at congressional district (“CD”) conventions and a State Convention using the traditional caucus/convention process.  Under the proposed Plan, county and city Democratic committees will hold assembled or unassembled caucuses on April 21, 2012 or April 23, 2012 to elect congressional and state convention delegates (“State delegates”).  These State delegates will then attend congressional district conventions to be held on May 12, 19, or 26, 2012, to elect National Convention delegates.  The proposed Plan calls for the election of four to eight National Convention Delegates at each district convention (for a total of 69 CD level delegates) and seven CDs will also elect National Convention Alternates.  The same State delegates will then attend a State Convention on June 9, 2012 to elect 23 at-large delegates, two alternates, and 14 pledged Party Leader or Elected Official (“PLEO”) delegates.

Virginia’s delegation consists of the National Convention Delegates identified above, 17 automatic delegates (sometimes referred to as super delegates), four members each of the National Convention Committees (Credentials, Rules, and Platform), and four pages.  The Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, NC, on September 3-6, 2012 and nominate the Party’s candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.  The draft Plan contains a summary at pages 32-34 and a detailed timeline at pages 35-38.  DPVA will issue additional detailed guidance.

2012 Changes:  The 2012 Plan is not significantly different from the 2004 and 2008 Plans, but reflects changes that the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee recommended (and the DNC) adopted since 2008.  (See Rules tag for posts on RBC actions.)  The most important changes:

  • Later primary date – the DNC, as well as the RNC, adopted rules intended to move primaries/caucuses to no earlier than March 6, 2012 (with the exception of IA, NH, SC, and NV).  Virginia has enacted a March 6 primary date which comports with party rules.
  • More delegates – the DNC has increased the number of National Convention delegates to increase participation for Democrats at every level (and reduce the effect of the super delegates).  The “base number” increased from 3,000 to 3,700 delegates.  Including all types, the total number of National Convention Delegates will exceed 5,000.  Virginia will have a total of 123 Delegates.
  • Fewer alternates – the number of alternates has been reduced proportionately to the increase in the delegate number, to approximately 400.  In 2008, we elected one alternate per CD and three at large for a total of 14.  In 2012, Virginia has only been allocated 9 delegates, so the draft plan gives 7 CD alternates, with two to be elected at large.
  • Bonus delegates – to encourage states to move their dates back in the process and form regional clusters, the DNC will award bonus delegates.  Virginia is not eligible for such delegates and will not repeat the Potomac Primary with DC and Maryland this year.
  • Unpledged delegates – the new rules require unpledged automatic delegates (super delegates), which include members of Congress, Governors, former DNC Chairs, and current DNC members, to declare support for a presidential candidate (including “uncommitted”) within 10 days of the selection of the State’s pledged delegates.  The DNC also eliminated the category of the add-on unpledged delegates (in 2008, Virginia elected two such delegates at the state convention).
  • National Convention Committees – we will no longer elect temporary standing committee members, because we have not needed them.
  • Affirmative Action/Inclusion Programs – the new rules include additional reporting requirements regarding compliance with Affirmative Action programs.  The new rules also require consideration of young people (under age 35) with people with disabilities and LGBT Americans in Inclusion Programs, which Virginia did in 2008.