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Four years ago, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans narrowly missed getting a trip to the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for Howard Dean. This time around, the rules changed and, since the primary, everyone thought Evans was in like Flynn.
Well, not so fast.
Two delegate spots are reserved for what are called PLEOs—party leaders and elected officials. This year, those spots are slotted according to a hierarchy; Council chairman gets first dibs, followed by chairman pro tempore, followed by at-large councilmembers, and so on. But you also have to be supporting the right candidate; the PLEO slots are allocated based on the results of the District’s primary. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray is a Barack Obama guy; Evans, the chair pro tempore, is a longtime Hillary Clinton guy.
Originally, the D.C. Democratic State Committee held that Obama and Clinton were entitled to one PLEO spot apiece. Well, a group of Obama activists—including D.C. for Obama’s Howard Park, Jordan Usdan of Young Lawyers for Obama, and D.C. for Democracy’s Keith Ivey—researched the rules and held that Obama supporters were entitled to both PLEO seats. Their interpretation, sources say, was upheld earlier this week through an appeal to the Democratic National Committee.
“It was a matter of math, not politics,” says Park.
LL is not going to get into the uber-complicated calculations here. (If you want a rundown, check the comments section of this blog post; “KCinDC” is Ivey.) Long story short: Jack Evans isn’t guaranteed a trip to Denver anymore.
That’s not to say it might not happen some other way. Evans could run for one of two unpledged add-on spots at the D.C. Democratic State Committee meeting tonight. No guarantees there: About two dozen party activists have already put their names forward for slots, and with a majority of committee members supporting Obama, getting a Clinton supporter elected is unlikely barring some odd vote-splitting.
Another scenario: Clinton is guaranteed one pledged at-large delegate, which is to be chosen by the state committee on May 3; Evans could still be named to that slot. The complicating factor is that those at-large spots are generally used for concerns of racial or gender balance—white males typically don’t rate.
Evans didn’t respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery