Home Virginia Politics Thoughts From a First-timer on the DPVA Convention

Thoughts From a First-timer on the DPVA Convention

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(Excellent diary, I strongly encourage others to post their thoughts here at Blue Virginia on the DPVA convention yesterday. – promoted by lowkell)

I was honored to join my fellow Virginia Democrats at the State Convention in Fairfax yesterday. I was equally honored to be counted as a member of the overwhelming majority who were first time attendees. We are the party of diversity and inclusion and it is wonderful to see old hands and newcomers alike, uniting to help make our Commonwealth and our country a better place. I personally feel that part of making this community better is effectively and efficiently promoting the Democratic agenda, and that is why I feel compelled to write this letter.

My wife and I are residents of Abingdon, Virginia. Abingdon, as some may recall, is further west than Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the miles, we were happy to make the journey this year to unite with other Virginia Democrats and conduct the business of our party.

We made our trip to NoVa, the land of our youth, on Friday and spent the evening with family. We got a late start saturday, and arrived at GMU about 20 minutes before delegates were scheduled to be seated. We received our credentials and took our seats on time, but were surprised to hear along our way that the party had reserved a hall that would only be available for 5 hours. Our convention in the 9th district was scheduled for 3 hours and took 3.5. How can a convention that expected a crowd 10 times as large expect to finish in 5 hours, including lunch?

Calling the meeting to order 15 minutes late didn’t help the situation. Efforts were made to keep to the timeline by rearranging some speakers, but the event was destined to run late. 30 minutes for a roll call is unacceptable. Forgetting to make provisions for delegates who were counting ballots to vote on the next ballot is unacceptable. The most unacceptable aspect however was that it took more than 3 hours to hear the result of the first ballot for DNC member.

Hearing our elected officials speak is always invigorating. It’s half of why we attend these meetings. It seems however that the other half, the completion of party business, was thrown to the wayside.

It wasn’t until after 2 o’clock, when we were required to leave the hall, that we were given the results of the first ballot for DNC committeeman. I know that wasn’t the intention of the chairman, but it is something we could have planned for. It’s pretty embarrassing to watch a statesman like Brian Moran trying to run a meeting while his dais is disassembled around him.

It was suggested that we reconvene in the nearby Mason Inn to conduct the second ballot. Before we could though, a motion was made to suspend the rules and vote by acclimation. I didn’t spend the time and money that I have, to be part of a shouting match to elect my representatives to the DNC. We should conduct our affairs with a little more dignity, especially when it comes to entertaining motions and conducting a vote.

At this point, I feel it is important to state that I supported Ben Tribbett. Despite what some of the literature at the convention said, Ben is a good Democrat who works hard to promote the ideals of our party and retire people who stand in the way of unity and progress. Would Ben have won if the vote were conducted properly? Unfortunately, no, probably not. But failing to give this vote the time it deserved only helps to underline why he was running. We need better leadership and management of our party. My wife and I drove more than 6 hours from our home in Washington County to be a part of this convention, and to have our votes counted. There are few people as stubborn and persistent as I am. Will less persistent people make this trek again if they feel that their time will be wasted? Will they drive if they feel that their vote won’t count?

Suspending the rules is a tool reserved for expediency, not to assist people who can’t keep an eye on their watch. Would reconvening in the Mason Inn have been convenient? No, but neither was driving 345 miles to participate. The greater inconvenience will come next year, when we commission the same processes to select our gubernatorial candidate, lieutenant governor, and attorney general; positions of considerably more consequence than 1/447 of our Democratic National Committee.

At the time of this writing, I am still unsure of who my presidential electors will be.Those results may have been announced at one of the receptions at the inn.  The same inn that no one wanted to go to and conduct a proper vote..  I, like many others, simply didn’t stick around.  I didn’t feel like reveling and celebrating an event like this.

On our way out, we overheard more than one young Democrat say that this was their first, and would be their last state convention. Who won the vote didn’t matter so much as being heard and being valued. Did our convention value every member in attendance? Did it value their opinion? I want to believe so, but then again, there are few people as stubborn and persistent as me.

  • from his Facebook page:

    “I’m overjoyed at the outcome. Seriously. We put so many votes on the board and got so close that they had to resort to humiliating themselves on stage to stop my election. The mask is off, and now everyone knows what DPVA is.”

    Also:

    “One interesting thing about watching the ballot count yesterday was how different areas react to the concept of a ‘slate’. In the 7th (mostly suburban Richmond), the slate got 50% of all the votes. In the 8th (inside beltway NoVA) it was closer to 10%. But even more interesting was that in the 8th I saw more votes for Leone/Wallace than the slate as they were counting. In other words, even if they wanted the people on the slate, voters were choosing to cast their own ballot and not for a ‘slate’ box.”

  • And despite the day’s conclusion, thanks for making the drive! If I was that frustrated on my 25 minute drive back to Falls Church, I can’t imagine how you must’ve felt.

  • ZachPruckowski

    I didn’t drive 6 hours to get to GMU (I live about an hour away) but I nonetheless gave up half my Saturday (7am to 3pm) when I had other commitments to come to the Virginia Democratic convention to elect Virginia’s DNC members.  The realities of the elector state and the delegate slate being what they are (and the difficulty of campaigning for those positions) I knew going in that only the DNC election was contested.  So I willingly gave 8 hours of my time to participate in the free and fair election of Virginia’s DNC members, and I as a delegate got screwed – I didn’t get to participate in a free and fair election according to any set of rules (we literally suspended the rules to install someone in the second slot).

  • peacepatriot

    I was not afforded the opportunity to vote. PERIOD.  The entire process was a fraud.  15 people from the 1st district did not get to caste their votes. There was also another district that had delegates that did not get to vote.

    There were “observers” behind our group that I believe received ballots that we did not receive.  When we called this to question, our protest, which they would not allow us to submit a formal protest was waved away by Brian Moran and the rest of the “leaders”.  What a sham!!!  Yes I also would have voted for Ben.  I had never met him, but after hearing his speech I was very impressed not only regarding getting out the youth, but the need to allow voters to vote, not a caucus.  After reading the trash sheet that was being distributed against Ben, I really began to wonder what kind of organization this is.

    But who we would have voted for is not the issue. The fact that we drove several hours, stayed in a hotel, and arrived on time at the Convention to be counted so our vote could be counted is the issue.

    I’m ashamed of this organization.

    Oh and I left early out of complete disgust!  This situation also shamed all of the candidates including Tim Kaine and Barack Obama.

    Shelley Napier – 1st District – PAST MEMBER OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY – NO MORE!!!

  • Paradox13VA

    I was the last teller standing in the counting room. It took something like six hours for the work of correctly counting the ballots to get done. Yes, it was remarkably annoying for those in the convention hall to have to wait, and wait, and wait for the results.

    But as a teller, please understand that the reason for the wait was the critical need to get the count RIGHT. Many Congressional Districts had their tallies counted two or even three times to ensure accuracy. There were many ballots that had to be examined closely to understand the intent of the voter. I am glad to say that at least for my CD, the intent was clear each time, though it took some examination to determine it.

    And this work of counting was done in somewhat harrowing circumstances. At two or three points during our count of the DNC ballots, my partner and I stopped our count so we wouldn’t lose track as one or another observer started yelling and severely distracting (and delaying) the process.

    I want to personally say “thank you” to Cobb, Peter, Liz and the rest of the DPVA staff and volunteers in the counting room at the convention. It was a very difficult job, made more difficult by circumstances they did not control, but ones that were dictated from the convention floor – or dais.

    There are many, many lessons to learn from this weekend’s convention, but I am confident that Clark and the rest of the political team will take the time to listen and learn them.

  • peacepatriot

    I don’t think it was observers that were yelling or distracting.  I think it was delegates that did not get to vote and felt that your count was flawed and incorrect from the beginning.  Sadly, you volunteered your time and did an excellent job, however the event was so poorly organized and the “leadership” did not respect the time, money or efforts on the part of delegates that came to VOTE.  There is question that some “observers” received ballots that should have gone to delegates….

  • peacepatriot

    I don’t think it was observers that were yelling or distracting.  I think it was delegates that did not get to vote and felt that your count was flawed and incorrect from the beginning.  Sadly, you volunteered your time and did an excellent job, however the event was so poorly organized and the “leadership” did not respect the time, money or efforts on the part of delegates that came to VOTE.  There is question that some “observers” received ballots that should have gone to delegates….

  • MDF

    Though this was my first State Convention, I have been involved in other large political events like the JJ my districts convention and other Dem fundraisers. I know how difficult it can be setting up events like this on a budget. There were some major problems with the mechanics of how the event ran. But I don’t think it was the disaster some people make it out to be. I would say the problems with the voting and counting in the 1st district has to come down on the Chair of the 1st district. It was her responsibility to get an accurate count of her delegates.

    While I appreciate what Mr. Tribbett was trying to do with his campaign, I could never vote for someone that has slammed office holding Dems. I agree with him that the DPV has to get young people involved and integrate more technology, but I don’t think he is the person to do that. How could I trust Mr. Tribbett on the upcoming elections with the awful things he has said about Tim Kaine and Gerry Connolly over the years. I don’t want someone making decisions on my behalf that might decide its better to let a Repub win then a more conservative Dem. We are a big tent party, that means there are going to be some conservative Dems you won’t always agree with.

    I think the real problem with the whole event was the time restraints. It should be written into the bylaws that no time restraints can be put on voting at the convention.

    I just hope people can get over what problems they had with how the convention was run so we can all come together in November and keep this state moving forward.  

  • pontoon

    and will be my last.  No organization and the end of the convention…when we should be promoting unity because of the tough elections we have this year…we were forced by the DPVA establishment to voice vote for a DNC member because the DPVA had been so entirely stupid as to rent a space that required us to leave by 2:00.  Poor, poor planning.  There is no excuse for it and Brian Moran should resign.