Democrats Discuss Future of Texas Two-Step

Texas Democrats ended their State Convention united behind Barak Obama. But they remained divided about the caucus process that gave him a majority of Texas delegates. Shelley Kofler reports from Austin.

Throughout the convention hall Clinton supporters erupted in spontaneous Hillary chants, even as they braced for the end of her campaign.

Clinton delegates like Charles Kallassy of Dallas had already accepted this inevitable.

“Even with our disappointment and the bruises that we have from the results of the primary, we will be forcefully and fiercely behind Senator Obama.”

But one of the bruises healing more slowly is the remaining rift -over what’s been called the Texas Two-Step, where Democrats cast ballots at the polls on primary day then voted again at crowded, unorganized neighborhood caucuses where additional delegates were chosen.

While Clinton won the popular vote in Texas, final tallies released at the convention confirmed she lost the caucus vote. Overall Obama captured 99 state delegates, Clinton received 94.

Kallassy is among those who believe caucus voting hurts candidates like Clinton. He wants it abolished.

“The demographic for Senator Obama was a younger demographic that were able to, in most cases, come out late at night and maybe not have family obligations, and it made a big difference.”

But many Obama supporters like Richard Gladden of Denton point to the thousands of new democratic voters who got involved because of caucuses. He wants to keep the two-step.

“To get live people together to discuss who they are going to sign in for and what the issues are that different people think are important is really a good educational experience.”

The issue reached the convention floor after more than two thousand delegates signed a resolution.

“The motion that has been presented is to eliminate the Two-Step process.”

But State Senator Royce West of Dallas argued to delay debate until a committee he’ll head holds hearings around the state. Others angrily disagreed claimed party power brokers were trying to bury the discussion.

“I would like to ask Sentor West when was he appointed chairman to seek out this and why has he stalled for the last damn five damn weeks.”

“Chair rules your inquiry out of order.”

A majority of delegates voted for West’s committee to study the issue first. While he personally supports caucus voting because it attracts new democratic voters, he admits it needs tweaking.

“If the caucus process survives the scrutiny we are about to put it through, then we have to make sure there are adequate supplies for the number of people who are registered in that specific district.”

West expects to make recommendations by year’s end on whether to the two-step is a misstep, or a dance democrats should continue to do.