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Becoming a delegate requires some connections — and an understanding of the political process, which even some delegates have trouble explaining. In February, caucuses for each candidate were held in every congressional district. Any registered Democratic voter could attend the caucuses for the Democratic candidates and cast votes for a slate of delegates. The districts split their delegates equally between the top men and women vote getters. Of California’s 441 delegates, 241 were elected through the caucus system. Although public notices are issued about the caucuses, not too many people show up. About 300 people attended the caucus in Oakland’s ninth congressional district this year, where 35 people competed for three delegate slots and one alternate spot. Still, this year’s group was a crowd compared with 1992, when, according to delegate Tony West, only 25 people attended a Clinton caucus in San Francisco. Those seeking to be a delegate bring their family members and friends to vote for them. Each person is allowed multiple votes, so the goal, West said, is to be everyone else’s second choice. “I started working the room, saying why I wanted to be a delegate,” said West, who also gave a speech to the crowd. “I was funny enough I got enough votes.” In addition to those elected through the caucus system, states also send at-large delegates and super-delegates. Anyone wishing to be a delegate — or nominate someone else — submits an application to the campaign’s steering committee in his or her state. The committee then selects at-large delegates from this pool. The super-delegates avoid the election process. Bob Mulholland, campaign adviser to the California Democratic Party, said the 71 Californians in this category include the state’s 33 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and two U.S. Senators, the members of the Democratic National Committee who reside in California, and the former chairs of the committee. Delegate positions are also set aside for party leaders and state elected officials. They apply for these slots and are selected by campaign steering committees. California is sending 48 such delegates, who include San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Those who successfully navigate the labyrinth join a select crowd of politicos. “I never knew how people in funny straw hats got to sit on the floor of the stadium,” said delegate Owen Byrd, a Palo Alto solo. “Now I get to be one of them.”

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