The Establishment Ballgame How Automatic Delegates Perpetuate Party Insider Power

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Jun 12, 2012 Comments Off on The Establishment Ballgame PLA Admin

by Daniel Poletti, PCO Elect, Precinct 635, LD 17

From time to time, I will be posting things I have learned as I delve into the elections process in Washington. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I am under the distinct impression that most of the public doesn’t understand how the system works. Today’s topic is Automatic Delegates.

When a PCO (Precinct Committee Officer) attends a caucus and leads his precinct in the vote, he or she becomes an automatic delegate to the county convention, in addition to being able to vote alongside his neighbors for the elected delegates. If the establishment recruits their own PCO’s to run and then they use G.O.P. resources to get them elected, as has been done in the past, then they already have a certain percentage of the vote in the bag before the voting ever begins, and significantly steer this vote in whatever direction they choose. In Clark County, for instance, we just went from 195 precincts to 222, thereby establishing 222 automatic delegates if all the PCO seats are filled. The elected delegates last time totaled less than 900, and in a normal election cycle, a large percentage of those will fail to attend the county convention, so the automatic delegates become an even larger percentage of the total votes cast to elect state delegates.

Similarly, when the stage shifts to the state convention, each county is given at least three automatic delegates from among the highest orders of the county party establishment, the chairperson, the state committee man, and state committee woman from each county. These three positions are elected by the PCO’s every few years. The automatic delegates to the state convention total over 120, and these people pretty much vote the same way, last time for McCain, this time for Romney, etc. It is all determined beforehand by the heads of the state party.

Did you realize. for example, that Ron Paul actually had the most elected delegates in Clark County headed into the convention? The numbers shaded to Romney’s slight advantage only after the PCO automatic delegates were taken into account.

Ultimately, these automatic delegates become the foundation for the party’s railroad campaign every four years. The party decides on the candidate, and then sells that candidate to the PCO’s, to the media, and to individual voters. By the time the election rolls around, it would take a major victory among elected delegates to overcome the establishment’s automatic legions. Since the candidate with the most money is usually the one who the party supports, this becomes an extremely difficult task.

So this is how the party decides the presidential nominee on your behalf. As I have tried to demonstrate, the whole foundation of party control relies on their winning these PCO races. There are some in the party whose first priority is to preserve the established power structure. We can expect they will mount significant resistance to any PCO candidate whose goal is to change it.


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