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Democrats' gathering, held online, hits only a few snags

by Frank E. Lockwood | May 31, 2020 at 3:10 a.m.
Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray is shown in Little Rock in this file photo.

The Democratic Party of Arkansas elected delegates to the Democratic National Convention during an online special state convention Saturday.

Presidential electors also were picked.

Billed as the party's "first in the nation virtual convention," the roughly five-hour event drew participants from across the state.

"A really impressive slate" of Democrats will be representing Arkansas at the presidential nominating convention, party Chairman Michael John Gray said.

"Our delegation is as diverse, if not more diverse, than it has ever been. But what I was really encouraged by was there were a lot of new faces. A lot of new people got involved in the process that haven't been involved before," he said.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the party canceled plans for an in-person convention. Instead, 208 county delegates were able to participate electronically, officials said.

Rather than casting paper ballots, Democrats opted instead for a roll-call vote.

Party Secretary Teresa Gallegos, who kept the tally, apologized ahead of time for any excessive background noise. Her neighbor was doing yardwork, she explained.

When necessary, she gently reminded voters to unmute their phones so their voices could be heard.

All in all, things went smoothly, Gray said afterward.

"There were some bugs and some glitches but we handled them. I feel like everybody ... felt like their voice got heard," he said.

Arkansas is entitled to send 36 delegates to the national convention, including five automatic delegates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the party's March 3 presidential primary, carrying Arkansas with 40.6% of the vote. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont finished second, with 22.4%, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with 16.7%.

Biden was awarded 21 delegates as a result of the primary. Sanders received nine. One Bloomberg delegate was selected.

The party's convention is scheduled for Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee. The original date in July was scrubbed early in the coronavirus pandemic.

Automatic delegates include Gray of Augusta; Nicole Hart of Little Rock, the first vice chairwoman; National Committeeman Dustin McDaniel of Little Rock; National Committeewoman Kasey Summerville of Little Rock and Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman Lottie Shackelford of Little Rock.

Party Leader and Elected Official delegates include Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott; Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram of West Memphis; House Minority Leader Fred Love of Little Rock; state Sen. Linda Chesterfield of Little Rock. All four are Biden delegates.

The party identified other Biden delegates as Tamara Hood of West Memphis; Ethan Williams of Corning; Catherine Norvell of Jonesboro; Julee Jaeger of Conway; Dustin Parsons of Benton; state Rep. Jamie Scott of North Little Rock; Donell Meadows of Little Rock; Maritza Munich of Centerton; Dean Flanagan of Fort Smith; Suzie Bell of Eureka Springs; Wanda Young of El Dorado; Mike Epley of Magnolia; Michael McCray of Pine Bluff; Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth of Little Rock; Mariah Hatta of Little Rock; state Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff; and Jay Barth of Little Rock.

Sanders delegates are: Colby Reed of Highland; Amanda Kennedy of Greenbrier; Martin Shedd of Conway; Manuel Tejada of Springdale; Veronica Balaster of Russellville; Frank Klein of Mount Ida; Julie Tuck of Nashville; Henry Edwards of Little Rock; and Ray Balaster of Russellville.

The Bloomberg delegate was listed as Sylvia Brown of North Little Rock.

The slate of presidential electors are: Frederick Freeman of Forrest City; Phillip Hood of Little Rock; state Rep. Megan Godfrey of Springdale; Connie Castleberry of Nashville; Asad Khan of Jonesboro; state Rep. Nicole Clowney of Fayetteville.

Metro on 05/31/2020

Print Headline: Democrats' gathering, held online, hits only a few snags

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