COLUMBIA — Boone County Democratic voters will convene on Feb. 28 to select delegates for the 9th Congressional District Convention in March.
A requirement that participants must have voted in the primary beforehand is new this year, but Phyllis Fugit, chairwoman of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, doesn’t think that will affect turnout.
“I was concerned about (the new rule) before the election, but I don’t think that it’s going to be a problem with that big primary turnout,” Fugit said.
In Boone County, about 48 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the Feb. 5 primary.
Although Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was the winner in Boone County, and in Missouri overall, he’ll get one less delegate than New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 9th Congressional District because Clinton won the district by about 3,600 votes.
“We will be getting 16 Hillary delegates and 16 alternates, and 15 Obama delegates and 15 alternates,” Fugit said of the district.
At the beginning of the meeting, Fugit said, the group will be asked to divide into two groups: one supporting Clinton and one supporting Obama. Afterward, participants in each group will elect a temporary chair, then a permanent chair and a secretary for what is essentially a small caucus. Participants then will begin nominating some of the people present to be delegates. Nominees will be given a few minutes to speak, then the group will vote. The chair will preside over the process for selecting delegates.
Betty Wilson, who practices law in Columbia and describes herself as a lifelong Democrat, hopes to be selected as a delegate this year. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s done it. Wilson was a delegate when President Jimmy Carter was nominated in 1976, and her journey didn’t stop in Boone County.
“I was elected on the state level when it came to the state committee,” Wilson said. “It was very exciting. It was completely unexpected. It’s an experience that I hadn’t thought I would repeat, but if the opportunity is there this year I am interested.”
Wilson has been a leading local supporter of Clinton. She said participating in caucuses at all levels will be exciting because of the potential to make history by nominating the first female candidate for president.
“I think it would be reaching a goal that women have been trying to achieve, and that has been that we can occupy the positions that have been traditionally men,” Wilson said. “It’s not just because (Clinton’s) a woman. It’s because she’s extraordinarily qualified.”
Thursday’s event is part of a series of caucuses that eventually will lead to the selection of delegates to go to the Democratic National convention Aug. 25 to 28 in Denver.
The Boone County meeting will be held at Rock Bridge High School. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the selection process will begin at 7:30 p.m. Those who want to participate must be inside the school by 7:30 p.m and must have voted in the Feb. 5 presidential primary. People who arrive after the 7:30 deadline will be able to watch the proceedings but will not be allowed to participate.
Delegates chosen for Boone County will head to the Ninth Congressional District caucus on March 27. The Missouri Democratic Convention is May 10.