The Clinton campaign last week exercised its right to select its own people, including prominent gay lobbyist Steve Elmendorf and gay D.C. Council staffer David Meadows, to fill the remaining seven delegate and alternate slots in the city’s 46-member delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
The addition of Elmendorf and Meadows to the delegation brings D.C.’s total “gay” delegation to the convention to four. Earl Fowlkes, who serves as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Caucus as well as president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, has been designated as a super delegate from D.C.
Gay Democratic activist John Fanning, an official in the administration of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, won election as a Clinton delegate in the city’s Democratic presidential caucus in March.
At the request of the Clinton campaign, Meadows was named as an alternate delegate for Clinton.
The action by the Clinton campaign ruffled feathers among some of the city’s Democratic Party activists, who had submitted their names to the D.C. Democratic State Committee. The committee is charged with selecting six “add-on” delegates and one “add-on” alternate delegate to complete the party’s three-month-long presidential delegate selection process.
Many local party activists, including lesbian attorney Lateefah Williams, a former Stein Club president, and longtime gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, submitted their names as candidates for the add-on delegate slots, seeking to line up support among State Committee members to select them.
All of them were passed over when the Clinton campaign submitted its own list of candidates for the seven add-on delegate positions and the State Committee voted to pick them.
Among those displaced by Elmendorf and Dyana Forester, a longtime Clinton ally and staffer at the United Food and Commercial Workers union, were City Council Chair Phil Mendelson and at-large Council member Vincent Orange. Mendelson and Orange were selected by the State Committee as “public officials” delegates for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Although the Clinton campaign overruled the State Committee’s plan to select Mendelson as an add-on delegate it nevertheless named him as vice chair of the D.C. delegation to the convention, enabling him to attend the convention as a non-voting member. Mayor Muriel Bowser was automatically named a delegate and chair of the D.C. delegation under national Democratic Party rules.
“It’s not unusual for campaigns to do that, I don’t think it’s such a big deal,” said Rosenstein, who was an early supporter of Clinton.
But longtime gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell called the action by the Clinton campaign “heavy handed,” saying it usurped the local community at a time when D.C. has been pushing for statehood.
“The Clinton people are mostly unknown to D.C. people,” Pannell said.