Probably the most interesting story I’ve heard this caucus/convention season was how Jim Cooper, one of our Thurston County delegates finally got to go to Denver.

On a coin toss.

Well, let’s back up. Jim was elected at the state convention is Spokane to one of the many spots that are alloted in Spokane. I’m not sure of the actual process, but Jim left Spokane assuming he was going to Denver, as long as he could get a plane ticket and a hotel room.

Well, someone screwed up counting.

Turns out that there are strict rules regarding the distribution of delegates between the men and the women, and there was one to many male delegates for Obama in the category of delegates that Jim was in.

So, how to settle this situation?

Coin Toss!

The following is a big long email (really long email) from the state Dem chair Dwight Pelz explaining the whole thing.

Here’s the boring part that lays the background (mostly what I said above, but what the hell, skip this if you want):

According to our current, still unofficial projects; here is the profile of delegates that Obama and Clinton will add in Spokane. Let me know if you disagree with these findings.


Clinton will add 3 PLEO’s, 6 At-Large, and 1 Alternate.

Obama will add 7 PLEO’s, 11 At-Large, and 3 Alternates.

Clinton will add 4 men and 6 women.

Obama will add 9 men and 12 women.

Clinton will seek to include 1 LGBT delegate, I disabled delegate, and 3 Hispanic delegates

Obama will seek to add 1 LGBT delegate, and 1 Hispanic delegate


In fact, on Sunday, June 15th the Elections Committee added for Obama 10 men and 11 women. Over the past week Sharon Smith, who chaired the Obama Sub-Caucus in Spokane, has reviewed these numbers and concurred with the DNC findings.

As a result, we must now:

1. Elevate a female Obama alternate to delegate, and appoint a female Obama alternate.
2. Move one male Obama delegate to alternate.
3. Remove one male Obama alternate from the delegation.

Adjusting the Delegation to Meet the Requirements of the DNC

Jaxon, Sharon, and I have reviewed the result of the balloting by the Obama Sub-Caucus on June 15 at Spokane. Here are the relevant results of that balloting.

1. Elevate a female Obama alternate to delegate, and appoint a female Obama alternate.

The female Obama alternate chosen in Spokane was Didi Saluja. She would become a delegate.

The next highest vote-getting female candidate who was not elected delegate or alternate was Michelle Gonzalez. She would become an alternate.

2. Move one male Obama delegate to alternate.

Here is where it gets tricky. The last two male delegates chosen were tied in the balloting. They are Robert Stowers and Jim Cooper.

3. Remove one male Obama alternate from the delegation.

This is also tricky, because the last two male alternates chosen were also tied in the balloting. They are Harvey Brooks and Mori Rothman.

This means we will have to remove at least one alternate from our delegation, understanding that he has purchased a ticket to Denver and reserved a hotel room. We will continue to consider this person a valuable and welcomed member of our group, including provision of a four-day Guest Pass to the Pepsi Center.

How to Proceed

The 2008 Rules for Election of Delegates and Alernates at the Congressional District Caucuses address the matter of tie votes in choosing delegates and alternates:

1. Presidential preference sub-caucuses shall be conducted as follows:

(D) After nominations are completed, voting shall be by signed ballot with all positions filled, no duplications and distribution by gender in accordance with subsections F, G and H. that follow. Any candidate for Delegate who receives a majority of the valid ballots cast on the first ballot shall be eligible for election. If all of the available delegate positions have not been filled after the first ballot a second ballot shall be held between the next two highest voter getters, for each position remaining in the field (if there is one position remaining there will be two candidates, if there are two positions four candidates, three positions, six candidates.) Ties will be decided by lot.

After receiving notice from the DNC I contacted David McDonald, member of the DNC Rules Committee and State Party Parliamentarian, on how we might proceed. He conferred with Phil McNamara, Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection with the DNC, who confirmed it would be appropriate to break the ties in the male delegate and alternate positions by lot to allow us to finalize the delegation.

Ok, here’s the fun part:

Therefore, I have asked delegates David McDonald, Helen Howell, and Sima Sarrafan to join me as witnesses in the State Party office on Thursday, June 17, at 4:30 for a coin toss to determine which delegate shall become an alternate; and which alternate shall become an unofficial member of our Washington delegation.

Thank you for your patience on this matter, and for agreeing to serve in our delegation.


Dwight Pelz
Chair, Washington State Democratic Party
Chair for Washington’s 2008 DNC Convention Delegation

Turns out that Jim won the toss, so he’s going to Denver as a delegate. The other guy, Robert Stower, if he is going, is an unofficial guest.