Ohio's Clinton And Sanders Supporters Choose Delegates Tuesday; GOP Slates In Place

Jan 4, 2016

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton
Credit U.S. Senate/U.S. State Department

Ohio Democrats will gather in all 16 of the state’s congressional districts Tuesday night to select delegate and alternate slates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Ohio’s March 15 primary election.

Ohio Republicans don’t use the caucus system to select delegates at the congressional district level – the campaigns of all 11 GOP candidates who have qualified for the March primary ballot have already been named by their campaigns and filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

But the Democrats hold a caucus in each congressional district to choose candidates for delegate and alternate to the Democratic National Convention which begins July 25 in Philadelphia.

In Southwest Ohio, there are three caucus meetings Tuesday night:

-         The 1st Congressional District, at Winton Woods Intermediate School, 825 Waycross Rd., Forest Park.

-         The 2nd Congressional District, at Southern Hills Career Technical Center, 9193 Hamer Rd., Georgetown.

-         The 8th Congressional District, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 648, 4300 Millikin Rd., Hamilton.

The doors will open at 6 p.m. for all the caucuses and the meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

Democrats will be running for male and female delegate slots for the two principle contenders for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, who will be the official coordinator of the 1st District caucus, said he expected hundreds of Democrats to show up at the caucus meetings because there are dozens of candidates who have been trying to drum up support at the caucus.

“It’s going to be very competitive,’’ Burke said. “I’ve seen a lot of organization on the Clinton side in particular.”

The caucuses are open to the public and the press, but only those registered voters who sign a statement of support for either Clinton or Sanders will be eligible to vote.

After the meeting is called to order, supporters of Clinton and Sanders will divide up and meet in different rooms.

Burke said that, at the 1st District caucus, candidates will be limited to one minute speeches, “just because there are so many of them.”

In the 1st District, there are 24 candidates pledged to Clinton and 17 pledged to Sanders. In the 2nd District, Clinton has 17 candidates while Sanders has 19, according to Burke.

In both the 1st and 2nd Districts, two male and two female delegates will be elected for both Sanders and Clinton. In the 1st District, one male alternate will also be elected for both Sanders and Clinton.

When the vote is taken the top two vote-getters of each gender will be selected as delegates.

Ohio Democrats will have a total of 160 delegates and 12 alternates. The Tuesday night caucuses around the state will choose 97 delegates and nine alternates.

In addition, there will be 19 “Party Leaders and Elected officials” (PLEO) delegates up for grabs in the primary, along with 31 at-large delegates.

So how will the delegates be distributed to the candidates after the March 15 primary?

It will be done proportionately, both at the congressional district level and the statewide levels.

A candidate will have to reach a threshold of 15 percent of the vote at the congressional district level and at the statewide level in order to be eligible for an allotment of delegates.

That’s how, in Ohio’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Hillary Clinton easily bested Barack Obama in the statewide popular vote, but when the delegates were distributed proportionately, Clinton had 74 Ohio delegates to 67 for Obama.

Ohio will have no proportional distribution of its 66 delegates and 63 alternates to the Republican National Convention to be held at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena July 18-21.

Ohio, of course, has a candidate in the race for the GOP nomination – Gov. John Kasich.

Assuming he will still be in the race by the time the March 15 Ohio primary rolls around, there is a decent chance he could be the top vote-getter in a crowded field.

There haven’t been any independent polls of Ohio GOP voters lately. The last one, done in late September and early October by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, had Kasich running third in his home state with 13 percent support, behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

A mid-August Quinnipiac Poll had Kasich in first place with 27 percent support.

But the Ohio GOP leadership did Kasich a favor back in September when Republicans in the legislature passed a bill moving Ohio’s presidential primary from March 8 to March 15.

That’s important, because the Republican National Committee has a rule that requires any states with primaries held before March 15 to award delegates proportionately.

Now, Ohio’s GOP primary will be a winner-take-all affair; and some GOP candidate – quite possibly Kasich – will walk away all of the chips Ohio has on the table.

Unlike the Democrats, the Ohio GOP does not have a caucus system for electing delegates. They are chosen by the campaigns themselves from a pool of supporters; and their slates are filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.