By AMAN BATHEJA - Fort Worth Star Telegram - April 15, 2008
Local Hillary Clinton supporters have filed more than 35 written challenges to the results of the Senate district conventions that chose presidential delegates March 29.
The challenges question the legitimacy of some delegates who were elected during muddled Senate district conventions statewide. The deadline for filing challenges was Monday.
The state convention, scheduled for June 5-7, is the final step of the Texas Democratic Party's complicated caucus process, in which 67 of the state's 193 pledged delegates are doled out. The remaining 126 pledged delegates were elected based on the March 4 primary vote: Clinton won 65, Obama 61.
The Clinton campaign has acknowledged that she likely gained fewer delegates than Barack Obama at the Senate district conventions but has not conceded a majority of the state's overall delegates, who also include 35 superdelegates.
Obama appeared to gain more delegates at all three district conventions in Tarrant County.
Most of the challenges allege that proper parliamentary procedure was not followed or that some delegates were improperly elected.
Clinton supporter Jason Smith of Fort Worth filed several challenges. He said that problems at the district conventions, as well as at the precinct conventions on the night of the primary, disenfranchised too many voters to be accepted as valid.
"Any process that allows some people to vote twice while denying that same opportunity to the disabled and to those who work nights is a constitutionally invalid system," Smith said. "Any constitutional law professor like Barack Obama could tell you that."
Faith Chatham of Arlington sat on the credentials committee for the Senate District 9 convention in Arlington, which was assigned to verify delegates' eligibility. She said there were so many violations of state party rules that the results shouldn't count.
"We should throw out the delegates and go with the primary vote," said Chatham, a Clinton supporter who filed several challenges.
State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, an Obama supporter, said the Clinton challenges amount to grasping at straws.
"They're beginning to come off like poor losers," Burnam said.
Hector Nieto, spokesman for the state party, said Monday that the party had received more than 50 challenges from both sides but could not give a precise estimate.
A credentials committee will resolve the challenges before the state convention, he said.
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