Originally created 04/22/00

Democrats to meet for state caucuses



ATLANTA -- Georgia Democrats will be well on their way toward assembling a slate of delegates to attend the party's national convention this summer after a series of caucuses today across the state.

Democratic voters in each of the state's 11 congressional districts will meet at 10 a.m. to choose 50 delegates and eight alternates to the August convention in Los Angeles.

In Augusta, the 10th Congressional District caucus will be at the Ramada Plaza Downtown, 640 Broad St.

The rest of the 92 convention delegates will be selected by party leaders at a meeting of the state Democratic Committee in June. They will include a list of automatic delegates, including Gov. Roy Barnes, U.S. Sen. Max Cleland and Georgia's three Democratic congressmen, said Georgia Democratic Chairman David Worley.

Mr. Worley expects attendance at the caucuses to range from about 100 to as many as 250 to 300. He said the turnout depends on the party's strength in each district and whether the district is spread out, like the mostly rural 8th Congressional District in Middle and South Georgia, or compact, as are the districts in the Atlanta area.

Mr. Worley said another factor affecting attendance is that caucuses during the past few presidential-election years have been held after the Georgia primary, when the party's nominee no longer is in doubt. There was much more interest back in 1988, when the caucuses took place in the midst of a spirited campaign for the nomination, he said.

"There were bigger turnouts in those days," he said.

Georgia Republicans chose 33 delegates to the GOP convention in Philadelphia during district conventions last weekend. But unlike their Democratic counterparts, the Republicans will pick the rest of Georgia's delegation at this year's state convention, which will be held next month in Savannah.

State GOP Chairman Chuck Clay said Georgia Republicans tend to hold conventions more often than the Democrats because of the party's grass-roots history. With no tradition of running state government, the Republican Party is operated less from the top down, he said.

"Their (Democrat) party functions as an adjunct of those in power," Mr. Clay said. "It's much more ruthlessly efficient. Ours is more unruly and unpredictable."

While Georgia Republicans hold annual conventions during three years of every four-year presidential-election cycle, skipping only the off-year congressional elections, Democrats hold a state convention only once every four years, during each gubernatorial election year.

Reach Dave Williams at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.