Stonewall Democratic Caucus members also set to elect new officers as record number of delegates expected to attend Democratic convention
AUSTIN — About 525 LGBT delegates and alternates will be among the nearly 15,000 people expected to attend next week’s Texas Democratic Convention in Austin.
Meanwhile, members of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus likely will elect a new president to replace Shannon Bailey of Dallas, who has refused to resign despite being arrested on a charge of public lewdness in June 2007.
With the intense interest in the Democratic presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama this year, party officials say they expect it to be the biggest state convention in history.
Typically, many delegates don’t attend the convention, but Hector Nieto, a spokesman for the party, said he anticipates that the vast majority of the 7,298 delegates and 7,298 alternates will be on hand for the event at the Austin Convention Center from Thursday, June 5 through Saturday, June 7.
The convention center seats only 12,000, but the party has reserved a side room that seats another 4,000 who will be linked to the proceedings via closed-circuit television. The party has instituted a lottery system for those who aren’t delegates but want to attend the convention as guests.
"The number of people showing up to the state convention is going to by far exceed any previous convention," Nieto said. "We definitely are expecting large numbers in all our different constituencies, and we expect to have a sellout crowd, so to speak."
The Associated Press has projected that Barack Obama will receive 99 delegates from Texas, while Hillary Clinton will receive 94, which doesn’t include the state’s 35 unpledged superdelegates. But 67 of the pledged delegates won’t be finalized until the state convention, meaning the numbers could change if people don’t show up to support their candidate.
"It isn’t over until it’s over," Nieto said. "This system was intended to encourage participation and encourage turnout."
The number of LGBT delegates to the state convention is based on those who self-identified as such by checking boxes on forms at precinct and senatorial district conventions earlier this year.
Many of the LGBT state convention delegates from Dallas are running to become national delegates to the party’s August convention in Denver. A minimum of about 18 LGBT people from Texas will serve as national delegates. They will represent 7 to 8 percent of Texas’ 228 delegates as required by the Democratic National Committee, which added LGBT to its affirmative action policy in 2006.
Erin Moore, vice president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said she’s running to become a national delegate for Obama. Moore said the competition is intense this year and she’s been conducting a miniature political campaign in Senate District 16 over the last few months.
"That is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Moore said, adding that the eyes of the whole country will be on the national convention. "Having our [the LGBT] voice heard on such a stage is very important. …
"If you’re into politics at all, this is a very exciting time," Moore said of the state convention. "This is something I would not want to miss. It’s crazy exciting, and I’m having a great time."
Moore is also running to become vice president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, which is made up of the caucus’ nine affiliate chapters across the state.
The TSDC will hold its biannual meeting from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, June 6 at the convention center to elect officers and approve bylaws.
Moore is currently running unopposed for vice president, but candidates can still be nominated on the day of the meeting.
Dan Graney of San Antonio is currently unopposed for TSDC president; Al Daniels of Dallas and Ruth Dalrymple of San Antonio are running for treasurer; and Kaye Gooch of Dallas and Lisa Thomas of Tarrant County are running for secretary.
Bailey, who’s served as president since 2004, isn’t expected to run for re-election to a third two-year term.
Since Bailey’s arrest for allegedly performing a sex act in White Rock Lake Park, TSDC members twice have tried unsuccessfully to oust him. Bailey’s critics say the situation has tarnished the group’s reputation, caused internal strife and perpetuated gay stereotypes.
Bailey has remained defiant, rejecting calls for his resignation but opting not to participate in TSDC affairs. Bailey, whose court case is still pending, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment this week.
Daniels, who’s seeking re-election as TSDC’s treasurer, said this week that in a critical election year, TSDC’s efforts have been hampered by a lack of leadership.
"We haven’t really been able to do much," said Daniels, a state delegate who’s running to become a national delegate for Clinton. "I feel much better about the whole thing now, because we’re within a week of getting that chapter closed."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 30, 2008.