WASHINGTON — Many Oklahoma Democrats pledged to support Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at the national convention still strongly back the former first lady and want to see her chosen as the vice-presidential nominee, even though that seems unlikely. Several of Clinton's delegates from Oklahoma said they wanted her name placed in nomination at the convention, which begins Aug. 25 in Denver, before it was announced Thursday that she would be part of the traditional roll call of the states. "I was elected to vote for Hillary, and there is not any reason at all that her name should not be put in nomination,” said Jacque Tomsovic, a delegate from Tulsa. Ron Dye, a Clinton delegate from Midwest City, said, "Senator Clinton must be included in the roll call vote. Why would you not? She has more popular votes nationwide. Why would you exclude her?” But Stuart Price, a Clinton delegate from Tulsa, said he didn't think a roll call vote was necessary at a convention that will nominate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to be the presidential nominee. "This is a time to unify the party and present a compelling case to the American people that change is necessary and our lives will be safer and more prosperous with an Obama administration,” Price said.
How delegates will voteClinton won Oklahoma's Democratic primary, getting 55 percent of the vote and capturing all five of the state's congressional districts. Based on that vote, she was awarded 24 delegates who will go to the convention pledged to the New York senator. Obama got 31 percent of the vote and was awarded 14 delegates to the convention. In addition to the pledged delegates, there are 10 "superdelegates” from Oklahoma. Eight of them, including Gov. Brad Henry, are committed to Obama, while one is committed to Clinton and one, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, of Muskogee, is uncommitted.
Delegates polled on VPOf the 14 Clinton delegates who responded to an Oklahoman survey last week, 11 named Clinton as their first choice for running mate. Obama is expected to announce his choice this week. Mildred Banks, a delegate from Tulsa, said, "As a delegate pledged to Hillary Clinton, and as chair of Tulsa Area Hillraisers for Hillary Clinton, my pick for VP is Hillary Clinton. She brings 18 million voters — more than any candidate in history.” Other running mate preferences mentioned by Clinton delegates, mostly as a second choice, were U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark. None of the Obama delegates who responded named Clinton as a running mate choice. There were four governors mentioned: Henry, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Brian Schweitzer of Montana. Ryan Kiesel, an Obama delegate from Seminole, said, "Governor Henry has demonstrated he can work across party lines to find real solutions for Oklahoma, and his experience in Oklahoma would be a great asset to Senator Obama's efforts to fight partisan politics in Washington.” Some Obama delegates, including Henry, declined to state a preference. "I really don't have any particular favorite in the vice-presidential sweepstakes,” Henry said. Most of the Obama delegates didn't have an opinion about whether Clinton's name should be placed in nomination, saying they favored whatever procedure would best unify the party. There has been some dispute about what would best unify the party in regard to Clinton, which is why there were negotiations between her camp and Obama's about her name being placed in nomination.
Releasing delegatesTypically, losing primary candidates release their delegates before the convention, allowing states to cast their votes unanimously for one nominee. But groups of Clinton supporters have sprung up demanding that her delegates be counted officially. Details of how the roll call will be conducted in Denver are being worked out, but Clinton could still release her delegates and encourage them to vote for Obama. Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters, who is co-chairman of the convention's Rules Committee, said he was inundated with calls and e-mails from one such group "clamoring to have her name in nomination.” Walters said he does not think Obama's running mate will be a surprise — predicting it will be one of the people who have been mentioned recently.
What they saidState Rep. Jabar Shumate, Obama delegate from Tulsa: "My pick for VP is Sen. Joe Biden (of Delaware). In my opinon, Senator Biden meets three important tests: He passes the ‘needs to feel comfortable' test. The Obama team has stressed that Obama needs to feel comfortable with his VP choice, and Obama and Biden in the past have appeared to work well with each other. "He passes the foreign policy test; it appears that Obama is concerned with showing that his team will be prepared to handle the major foreign policy decisions. "And lastly, Sen. Biden is good at the ‘attack' and will allow for a ‘good cop-bad cop' scenario to play out.” Randy Beutler, Obama delegate from Elk City: "I have complete confidence that Senator Obama will select a vice presidential candidate that is qualified and viable. ... I am presently leaning towards Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia.” Sharon King Davis, a Clinton delegate from Tulsa: "I am a Hillary Clinton fan, follower and admirer and I think that a female-African American ticket would be awesome, but I truly doubt that will happen.” Joe Carter, Clinton delegate from Norman: "I would like to see Sen. Evan Bayh from Indiana because he would help unite the party as a previous supporter of Hillary Clinton.” Online: Chris Casteel discusses predictions.