Dem convention goes with liberal Kucinich

Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Close to half of Alaska's elected delegates to the Democratic National Convention will cast their votes for Dennis Kucinich - the only candidate to visit the state and a man with virtually no chance of winning the nomination.

The rest of the elected delegates, a little more than half, are pledged to support the presumed presidential nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Alaska Democrats send 18 delegates and four nonvoting alternates to the convention. That's just a sliver of the 5,000 delegates and alternates from around the country who will gather at the July 26-29 convention in Boston, according to the Democratic National Convention Committee.

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, gained little support among Democrats elsewhere in the country. Bridget Gallagher, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, said one reason Alaskans looked more favorably upon him is simply because he showed up.

"He did make an effort to visit here," Gallagher said Monday, noting the candidate made stops in Juneau and Fairbanks right before the March caucuses.

No other candidate for the nomination visited Alaska, which has only three electoral votes and a history of voting Republican in presidential elections.

State Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, is among the Alaska delegates pledged to support Kucinich at the national convention. She favored Howard Dean before he dropped out of the race, but said Kucinich's positions on state's rights and individual liberties strike a chord for Alaskans.

"He's just a terrific person and has terrific ideals," Kerttula said. "I certainly believe that Kerry will be the nominee and feel good about that, too," she added.

The outcome at the state Democratic convention over the weekend in Anchorage was different from the outcome at local caucuses in March.

In March, Kerry had about 48 percent of the vote and Kucinich close to 27 percent. The rest of the votes went to Dean and John Edwards, or were uncommitted.

Gallagher said the approximately 250 delegates at the state convention "fanned out," a process in which delegates break into groups, based on which candidate they support.

"It was split between the two," Gallagher said, with slightly more support for Kerry.

Thirteen of Alaska's delegates are elected at the convention, with two of those seats going to elected officials. Seven of those are pledged to Kerry and six to Kucinich.

Another four are "super-delegates" that go to the convention automatically because they are national committee members. Their votes are not pledged to a particular candidate.

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