Party Delegates

March 08, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

Howard County Republicans will be sending two of their favorites to the GOP national convention this summer as delegates to vote for President Bush.

Howard County Democrats will be sending . . . um . . .

Democrats may not know for weeks who their candidates are. At least that's the word from the election board in Annapolis.

It's not that the election board doesn't know which nominees won. That much isclear. What is not clear is whether the winners will survive the party's several sets of criteria.

No matter how the delegates fared, the candidates to which they are pledged must have won at least 15 percent of the vote in the congressional district in which the delegates are running.

On that basis, it would look like Heather N. Donaldson of Fulton and Alice H. Cornelison of Ellicott City are headed forNew York as delegates pledged to Paul E. Tsongas this July. The former Massachusetts senator won 52 percent of the vote.

Donaldson wasthe top vote-getter in the Howard County portion of the 6th District, with 5,008 votes. Cornelison was second, with 4,813. Because voterswere told to choose no more than two of the 22 women running, Donaldson and Cornelison are shoo-ins.

However, the state Democratic Party requires an equal number of male and female delegates. What that means, says Ellicott City resident Angela Beltram, is that a man can bump a woman who has more votes in order to maintain the proper male-female ratio. Beltram was running as a Tom Harkin delegate and finished third overall in the 6th District.

And that's only the beginning. Patricia D. Regan of Columbia finished fourth, behind Beltram, but could go to the convention as a delegate for Bill Clinton, since he also received more than 15 percent of the vote -- 23 percent overall.

So who's going and who's not?

"I don't know, but I don't think it will be me," said council member Shane Pendergrass, D-1st.

Pendergrass, running as a Bob Kerry delegate, finished sixth in the Howard County portion of the 3rd District. Kristine Zornig of Columbia finished first, running as a Tsongas delegate.

Columbia resident Sandra Tice Gray finished fourth, but like Regan, may still have a shot at New York because she had the best finish among Clinton's women delegates in the 3rd District.

With Republicans, things are a lot simpler.

The winners go to Houston in August regardless of their candidates' success. The GOP catch is that delegates are required to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in that congressional district, regardless of their commitment. After two ballots, they can vote for the person to whom they are pledged.

The voting requirement will not hinder either former Republican Central Committee chairwoman Joan Athen of Columbia or Del. Robert H. Kittleman, 14-B, who is the House of Delegates minority whip. Both are committed to Bush, as are the other winners in the Howard County portion of the 3rd and 6th congressional districts.

As for the Democrats, Beltram says she has never tried to figure out the delegate system. People know enough about the system to vote for a delegate representing their choice for president, Beltram said.

That certainly seemed true in Howard, where delegates rode the coattails of the candidates, rather than the other way around. State Attorney General J. Joseph Curran III, who was pledged to Kerrey, could finish no better than 20th here inthe 6th District race.

Howard County residents committed to Tsongas were the top three vote-getters in the 6th District: Steven D. Chamberlain of Laurel, Raymond T. Donaldson of Fulton and Christopher J.Gearon of Laurel.

The same pattern prevailed among men in the 3rdDistrict. Dedrick Dunbar of Columbia, who is committed to Tsongas, finished first. He was followed by two other Tsongas delegates from outside the county.

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