Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, which extends from Augusta to Douglas and includes Statesboro, will send five voting delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and three delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Two of the district’s Republican delegates are committed to vote for Donald Trump for presidential nominee, at least on the first round of voting, while one of the delegates is committed to vote for Ted Cruz on the first ballot. Meanwhile, four of the Democratic delegates are bound to vote for Hillary Clinton as their party’s nominee, while one of the delegates is bound to Bernie Sanders. But the state Democratic Party will also send some so-called super delegates who can vote for any nominee they choose.
The district organizations of both parties elected delegates April 16, but at events 100 miles apart. The 12th District Democratic delegate election was held at Georgia Southern University’s Russell Union student center in Statesboro. Meanwhile, Republicans met for their 12th District convention at Coffee County Middle School in Douglas.
The parties send different total numbers of delegates to their conventions. More delegates required to achieve the Democratic nomination than the Republican. So, the 12th District Democrats were asked to choose more delegates than their Republican counterparts, even though more 12th District residents voted the Republican ballot than the Democratic one when the presidential preference primaries were held March 1.
The Republicans, or GOP for Grand Old Party, also follow a more formal process than the Democrats. Republican delegates from each county in the district attend an actual convention and vote for the district delegates, explained 12th District GOP Chairman Michael Welsh of Augusta.
“They were delegates from their counties, and they were elected at their county conventions a month earlier,” Welsh said.
About 150 delegates, plus approximately 30 or 40 guests, attended the district convention, Rep. Rick Allen, the Republican who represents the 12th District in Congress, was keynote speaker.
Concerned about geographic representation, the Republicans chose delegates and alternates from northern, central and southern counties of the district. However, they were not asked to appoint a certain number of men or women, or to pay attention to the race of delegates, Welsh said.
But 12th District Democrats were required to name two men and two women as their Clinton delegates and a woman as the Sanders delegate, said 12th District Democratic Party Chair Bill Herring of Statesboro. The selection of female and male delegates in each district, and attention to the inclusion of different ethnicities at the state level, is intended to make Georgia’s delegation reflect the diversity of voters in the primary, he said.
The Democratic Party did not elect delegates at the county level. Registered voters in the district who participated in the Democratic 12th District meeting committed their support to party principles when they signed in, Herring said. They were also required to commit to either Clinton or Sanders before receiving a delegate nomination ballot.
“Only the attendees who chose Hillary voted on the Hillary delegates, and the attendees that committed to Bernie voted on the Bernie delegates,” Herring said.
About 100 people attended the Democrats’ meeting. They heard from Gayla Seesee, daughter Joyce Nolin, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Allen for the congressional seat, and Keith Howard, who is running as a Democrat for Bulloch County sheriff.
The Democrats elected only delegates, not alternates. But a pool of six alternates will be elected at a statewide meeting in June, Herring said.
The Democratic Party of Georgia will also name 13 PLEO, or “political leader and elected official” delegates, plus 21 at-large delegates from around the state to ensure ethnic diversity, Herring said. The PLEO delegates are the so-called super delegates.
The Republicans do not have super delegates, but Georgia’s Republican delegates are bound to vote for their named candidates only through the first ballot.
“Obviously if you go to the convention and everybody votes the way they’re bound and they never, ever change, and nobody’s got a majority, then you’d never get to a nominee,” Welsh said, explaining why the parties have such rules.
Delegates by name
The district’s Republican delegates are, for Trump: Brittany Dasher of Effingham County and Chris Papierz of Coffee County; and for Cruz: Michael Welsh of Columbia County. The alternates are, for Trump: Ronald Schwartz of Laurens County and Ricardo Bravo of Columbia County; and for Cruz: Bob Finnegan of Richmond County.
The district’s Democratic delegates are, for Clinton: Tom Caiazzo, Jonathan McCollar, Elizabeth Hahn, and Adrienne McCollar; and for Sanders: Ivory Watts. Hahn is from Columbia County, but the rest are Bulloch County residents, Herring said.
The GOP National Convention is scheduled for July 18-21, followed soon by the Democratic National Convention, July 25-28.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.