Choosing Delegates: How do Delaware’s Political Parties Choose W - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Choosing Delegates: How do Delaware’s Political Parties Choose Who Attends National Conventions?

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Delegates gather in the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 28, 2012. (Photo: AP file) Delegates gather in the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 28, 2012. (Photo: AP file)

UNDATED- Delaware, Maryland and three other states will be holding presidential primaries on Tuesday, April 26. While Maryland’s primary election on Tuesday will include statewide offices, Delaware will only be holding its presidential primary. The First State will hold its primary election later in the year, on Sept. 13.

This year national convention delegates could play a crucial role in deciding their party’s general election candidate. Each state has its own rules for delegate selection. In some states, voters elect delegates, while in other states party members choose them.

Here’s a look at how the national convention delegates for Delaware’s Republican and Democratic parties are chosen:

Delaware Republican Party

Delaware’s GOP has a total of 16 delegates who will attend the 2016 Republican National Convention on July 18 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Former Delaware GOP Executive Director John Fluharty, who is handling the party’s convention arrangements this year, said three of the 16 delegates are automatically the party’s chairman, its national committee man and national committee woman. That leaves 13 delegates who need to be selected. Five of those 13 slots go to the Delaware GOP’s five geographic regions across the state: Sussex, Kent, Colonial, Western New Castle and Northern New Castle. Each of those regions gets one delegate and one alternate. Another slot goes to a statewide elected official. This year Delaware Treasurer Ken Simpler was offered a slot and accepted it, according to Fluharty.

The seven remaining slots are filled by a pool of party members who ask to be considered by the executive committee, which votes on them. Fluharty said that once the committee chooses those seven, the entire slate will go before the Delaware GOP’s state convention on April 30 in Dewey Beach, for approval.

On the Republican National Convention’s first ballot, all 16 Delaware GOP delegates are bound to nominate the winner of the state’s primary. However, Fluharty said if it goes beyond a first ballot, the delegates are released and “they can vote for whoever they want.”

Delaware Democratic Party

The Delaware Democratic Party will send 31 delegates and two alternates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which will be held July 25-28 in Philadelphia.  Of this total, 21 will be “pledged delegates,” who will be allocated to a candidate in proportion to the votes he or she receives in the state’s primary. The remaining 10 are unpledged delegates, consisting of PLEOS:  party leaders and elected officials, who choose for whom they want to vote.

Anybody who is registered as a Democrat in Delaware of Jan. 1 may run to become a Delaware Democratic delegate to the Democratic National Convention, according to Travis Williams, communications coordinator for the party. To be considered, applicants had to register with the Delaware Democratic Party by April 7.

Travis said when the Delaware Delegate Selection Caucus occurs on May 7 in Dover, the Delaware Democratic Party’s delegates will be officially selected.

According to the Delaware Democratic Party’s website, the delegate selection is as follows:

  • 14 subdivision-level delegates, consisting of eight delegates from rural New Castle County, two delegates from Kent County, two delegates from Sussex County, and two delegates from the City of Wilmington;
  • Five at-large delegates that can be from anywhere in the state;
  • Ten unpledged party leader and elected official delegates, which includes the governor, members of Congress, Delawarean members of the Democratic National Committee and other “distinguished” party leaders;
  • Two pledged party leaders and elected officials delegates; (Gov. Jack Markell, vice president, Coons, Carney, Carper).
  • Two alternate delegates who can be from anywhere in the state.

Williams said he does not foresee any delegate being released to vote for someone else in this year’s Democratic National Convention.

“Our side is a little more clean-cut,” he said, referring to the present uncertainty surrounding the Republican presidential race.


Click here to learn how the Maryland Democratic Party selects its delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention . 

Click here for information on how the Maryland Republican Party selects its delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention. 

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