State Democrats to kick off convention action Saturday
By Philip Moulden
Mississippi Democrats will meet at the precinct level Saturday in the first step of a process that will determine party leaders for the next four years and delegates to this summer's national convention in Chicago.
The precinct meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at places designated by the chairman of each county executive committee.
In Lee County, the meetings will be conducted at the polling place for each county precinct, said county Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Marshall Montgomery.
Registered voters attending Saturday's meetings, after signing a roster stating they are residents of the relevant precinct and members of the state Democratic Party, will then elect delegates to the county conventions.
In Lee County, the convention will be conducted March 2 at the Milam Intermediate School auditorium in Tupelo, Montgomery said. However, state officials indicated that wherever possible the conventions will be conducted at county courthouses.
The number of county convention delegates eligible from each precinct was determined by the number of Democratic votes cast at those precincts in the previous gubernatorial and presidential elections. That apportionment process is also used in other delegate selections.
County convention picks, as in all delegate votes in the party, are designed to provide as nearly as possible equal numbers of men and women.
Delegates attending the county conventions will in turn select delegates to the congressional district and state conventions.
County delegates will also break up for caucuses representing each supervisor district to select members to serve the next four years on county executive committees. Three men and three women will be named to the committees from each supervisor district, party officials said.
The people elected as delegates or alternates at precinct meetings and the county conventions need not be present at those sessions, however no one may cast a vote who is not present.
At the congressional district meetings, delegates will select national convention delegates and alternates from among presidential preference groups based on allocations to each presidential candidate. Those allocations will be determined in the March 12 presidential primary.
President Bill Clinton has only one challenger in Mississippi's Democratic primary: former perennial Libertarian Party candidate Lyndon LaRouche.
The 1st Congressional District convention, scheduled March 23 in Oxford, will pick two male and three female national delegates and one male alternate, a party spokesman said.
Delegates at each congressional convention will also select 15 representatives to serve four-year terms on the state Democratic Party Executive Committee.
At the state convention, scheduled May 18 in Jackson, participants will add eight at-large representatives as well as five pledged party and elected officials to the national convention delegation.
They will also select seven presidential electors for Mississippi, who would cast Electoral College ballots if the Democratic nominee carries the state.
The state convention will also add the final 25 members to the 100-member state executive committee and consider resolutions regarding the party platform and other party positions.