Local Democratic Club Tries Its Hand at Caucus

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The West Los Angeles Democratic Club recently tried its hand at Iowa-style politics. The club decided it would endorse a candidate based on the outcome of its own caucus. It was held at a church hall in Venice and KPCC's special correspondent Kitty Felde was there.

Caucusgoer 1: Welcome, one and all, to the West L.A. Democratic Club's Caucus.

Caucusgoer 2: Everybody's like, busy talking, and talking up their candidates.

Caucusgoer 3: We want somebody from each of the various groups here to come up and speak on behalf of their candidate.

Caucusgoer 4: Senator Clinton's representative tonight will be Marc Saltzberg.

Marc Saltzberg: One of the things that Hillary has is an ability to talk to politicians, to talk to individual people, to people who aren't in politics, to talk to foreign leaders. Hillary has that kind of background that allows her to be well represented around the world.

Susie Shannon: OK, as I said before, I'm Susie Shannon, and I'm very proud to be representing John Edwards tonight. A few months ago, a friend of mine actually died of esophageal cancer. His insurance company would not put him in a hospital that had an oncology wing.

And I think we all have stories like this, either in our families or our friends, who have been victims of this broken health care system. And this is one of the reasons that I support John Edwards.

Carrie Gibson: Hi there, I'm Carrie Gibson, and I'm representing our Obama group. And at first, it's just interesting looking at the room. We have a small circle in the center here, and two big circles on either side, so who is the uniter in this room? When Obama gets up and speaks, people feel moved.

They don't feel just intellectually moved, and I believe other candidates intellectually move us. Some of us, just moves us by their heart, but I think Obama has a way of moving our entire being. And I think people who aren't even for him have heard some of his speeches, and have felt goosebumps in a way they haven't felt in years.

Kitty Felde: Why haven't you picked anybody yet? What–
Caucusgoer 5: I'm not real thrilled with either of them.
Felde: Wait, wait, there's more than just either of them.
Caucusgoer 5: Any of them.
Felde: So the two of you are sitting here, waiting to be courted, yes?
Caucusgoer 6: No, not really. I'm just sitting here 'cause I'm stubborn.

Felde: The first round of voting showed that the Kucinich camp lacked the necessary 15% to remain viable. That's when the horse trading began.

Saltzberg: She worked, she negotiated with world leaders.
Caucusgoer 5: ... have experience running anything, and that scares me.
Saltzberg: That's why, you know, I was for Richardson. Sadly, he's not around anymore.
Caucusgoer 5: Well, I'm not ready to commit to any of them. None of them has shown me their capability to run something, particularly not something as big as the United States government.
Saltzberg: Well let me ask you a question then: if that's your criteria, it sounds to me that you're gonna have to vote for a Republican.
Caucusgoer 5: Things are not that bad.

Felde: As I recall, haven't they had problems in the past with endorsing one candidate?
Caucusgoer 7: Yes!
Felde: You've been split. Is that going to be a tradition?
Caucusgoer 7: We've never been able to endorse.
Felde: Ever?
Caucusgoer 7: Umm... I don't think so. Marc?
Saltzberg:Well like, four years ago, we did not endorse. We did not endorse.
Felde: How about eight years ago?
Saltzberg: It would have been pretty easy to endorse Al Gore, but I can't really say that that's what happened.

Felde: And then it was time for higher math: figuring out the voting percentages.

Caucusgoer 8: Anybody have a calculator?

Caucusgoer 9: Seven over 43– 7 over 53.

Felde: It looked like an easy win for John Edwards, who needed 60% to get the endorsement, but like more than a few recent elections, there were complications. Only the votes of dues paying club members could count.

Caucusgoer 10: David?
David: Huh?
Caucusgoer 10: Somebody tossed one of the uncommitted votes. One of the uncommitted votes' dues has not renewed.
David: We're going to have to recalculate. Apparently my dues aren't paid.

Felde: Finally, the results were in. Senator Clinton: 22% of the vote. Senator Obama: 15.5%.

David: Two people were unaligned, and Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards were not able to convince them to change their vote, and as a result, Senator Edwards received 58.69%, and under the bylaws of the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, there will be no endorsement in this February's primary.

[Crowd boos, light clapping]