Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 26, 2000
POLITICS: Bradley supporters meet in Palo AltoDelegates elected for Democratic Convention
by Christina Ziegler-McPherson
Braving not Iowa snow, but California rain, local Democrats gathered Sunday afternoon at the Cubberley Community Center to select delegates for the National Democratic Nominating Convention to be held this August in Los Angeles. The Cubberley caucus was held for the benefit of former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, and the five men and women elected to serve as delegates from the 14th Congressional District pledged to help the Bradley campaign win the California primary March 7.
Nearly 370 local Democrats heard speeches and then chose among 49 delegate candidates. Each voter had six votes to cast, and could distribute them any way he or she wanted.
The delegates chosen Sunday were Mountain View Mayor Rosemary Stasek, Palo Alto resident Daryl Savage, Stanford history professor David Kennedy, Stanford law professor William Gould and Stanford political science professor Luis Fraga.
Stanford computing center administrator Jane Marcus was selected as an alternate.
After the vote, the delegates were pleased to be representing Bradley.
Kennedy, who--along with fellow delegates Savage, Fraga and Marcus--belongs to a group of Stanford professors and staff called "Six Citizens for Bradley," said he supports the candidate because of the senator's appeal to younger voters and because "young people suffer from an attention deficit and a faith deficit in regards to politics"-- a condition he believes Bradley can counter.
Stasek cited Bradley's position on campaign finance reform as the reason for her support. "I have to live and die by this crazy system" she said, referring to her own successful campaign to sit on the Mountain View City Council.
However, there is no guarantee the delegates will have the opportunity to nominate the former basketball star as the Democratic presidential candidate at the Los Angeles convention. The primary election in March determines how many delegates Bradley and Vice President Al Gore each receive at the convention, to be held Aug. 14-17.
A candidate needs to win 15 percent of the Democratic vote in a congressional district to be awarded one committed delegate from that district. The top-voters at the district's caucuses are sent as delegates to the nominating convention.
While supporters of Bradley met in Palo Alto, Gore partisans caucused at the Youth Center in Los Altos to select delegates for that candidate.
Approximately 1,300 California Democrats signed up statewide to compete for the chance to be Bradley delegates, while 1,000 people sought to become Gore delegates. There were 104 caucuses statewide in California Sunday, with the Bradley and Gore campaigns holding gatherings in each of the 52 congressional districts.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who is endorsing Bradley, made an appearance to cheer the party faithful and rouse them to work for their candidate in March and beyond.
"I am exceedingly proud to add my name to yours in support of Bill Bradley for president of the United States of America," Eshoo declared to loud applause. "Today is the beginning of that most magnificent process of democracy," she said, "so let the balloting begin!"
Each delegate-candidate only had one minute to speak, so their ultimate success or failure depended more upon the number of supporters he or she brought to the caucus than what was actually said at the meeting.
The delegate-candidates were a mix of longtime local Democratic activists and political newcomers, with many of the first-timers saying that Bradley's campaign had inspired them to become more involved in politics.
One unsuccessful candidate, attorney Jessica Siesler, said she decided to run for a delegate seat because Bradley "has inspired me to get off my butt and stop throwing things at the TV."
Others, such as unsuccessful delegate Peter Gordon, were former residents of New Jersey and have supported Bradley since he first represented that state in the Senate in 1976.
A sizable contingent of Stanford faculty, staff, students and former students also came to the caucus. Of the six Democrats ultimately chosen to be delegates, five are affiliated with the university. Many Stanford faculty, staff and students became Bradley supporters after the candidate spent a year as a visiting professor at the university's Institute for International Studies in 1997-98.
Stanford political science professor Daniel Okimoto, who was Bradley's college roommate at Princeton University, has taken a leave of absence from teaching to raise funds and mobilize traditionally liberal groups to support Bradley's campaign. He commented that "ever since I met Bill Bradley in 1961, people predicted he would become president of the United States, and this was when he was 17 years old."
Unsuccessful delegate Alison Alter, a lecturer in public policy at the university, has organized a weekly Stanford town hall meeting to discuss issues related to the presidential campaign. The first forum, on leadership, is tonight at 7 p.m. at Stanford Law School room 280.
The next step in the delegate selection process is confirmation of the caucus results by the California Democratic Party in early February. In April, California's 239 congressional district-level delegates and the 62 superdelegates will meet to confirm 154 additional delegates chosen by the presidential campaigns and based upon the statewide votes each presidential candidate received in the primary.
At the Los Angeles convention, California will have 434 delegates--half of them men and half of them women as according to party rules--and 61 alternates for a total of 495 delegates. Of the California delegates, 62 are "superdelegates," elected Democratic officials--such as Eshoo--and party leaders. There will be 239 delegates and 40 alternates from the 52 congressional districts for a total of 279 district-level delegates.
Nationally, there will be 4,323 delegates and 610 alternates.1