Hawaii Democrats may boost Obama
HONOLULU – Barack Obama could pick up as many as three crucial superdelegate votes this weekend at the Hawaii Democratic Party’s convention.Those three votes would inch Obama closer to securing the Democratic presidential nomination over Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was 56 votes short of the nomination Friday.”This is going to be an exciting weekend. Definitely there will be a lot of campaigning. This is the first time I have seen this much excitement for a state convention,” said Florence Kong Kee, Democratic Party political director.Obama has 1,970 delegates in the Associated Press tally, out of the 2,026 he needs to become the first black candidate to win a major party presidential nomination. Clinton has 1,779.Hawaii has nine superdelegate votes, four of which said they would vote for Obama and two for Clinton. The remaining three will be picked at the convention, when delegates select the state party chair, vice chair and add-on delegate.Both candidates for state party chair, former Makiki state Rep. Brian Schatz and former Kunia state Rep. Annelle Amaral, have said they would vote for Obama at the national convention in Denver this August.Obama supporters are also backing Maui teacher Kari Luna for vice chair and retired Judge James Burns of the Intermediate Court of Appeals for the add-on delegate.Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s sister and a history teacher at La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls, will introduce U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie at the convention Saturday morning.Abercrombie, who has campaigned for Obama, said he plans to speak about unity and renewal.”This is a real chance to bring the party into the 21st century. That’s what his nomination means,” Abercrombie said.An additional 14 pledged delegates will back Obama at the national Democratic convention based on the results of the Hawaii caucus in February. Clinton received six pledged delegates from the caucus.Interest in Obama, who was born in Honolulu, swelled the ranks of the Hawaii Democratic Party during the caucus, when more than 37,500 people participated, increasing party membership from 18,000 to nearly 50,000.”The first and most immediate challenge is, of course, repairing what is this huge divide between our Clinton and Obama delegates,” Amaral said. “People feel very strongly about their candidate, and so the first thing we have to do is bring the party together around the one candidate.”Besides deciding on delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination, the party also will consider whether to support a state Constitutional Convention, which could be held if voters approve it during November’s election.Democrats like state Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-Tantalus-Makiki, and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case have been pushing for a Constitutional Convention, but other party members have said it would be used by Republicans to gain power outside of the state Legislature, which Democrats control with more than an 80 percent majority in both houses.—On the Net:Democratic Party of Hawaii: http://www.hawaiidemocrats.org/
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