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State Democrats' garden party

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Anyone expecting a tense Clinton-vs.-Obama showdown when pledged district delegates to the Democratic National Convention met in Sacramento on Sunday to pick the rest of the delegation -- 5 unpledged add-ons, 48 pledged elected officials and 81 statewide at-large delegates. The two presidential campaigns had mutually agreed on the slates, and the business of the delegate meeting was completed in about 20 minutes without a dissenting vote.

Former Controller Steve Westly, co-chairman of Obama's California campaign, nominated Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Clinton supporter, to be chair of the state delegation, and she was elected by voice vote.

Chairman Art Torres said the prolonged contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, rather than being a potentially divisive problem, has been "healthy for the party."

He had some numbers to back up that assertion: Between Jan. 3 and April 4, 93 percent of new voter registrations in California were Democrats. "We've turned Ventura County blue, we've turned San Joaquin County blue and Stanlislaus County is close behind," he said. Getting people energized during the primary season has created "our army for November... We will come together as we always do."

In keeping with national party guidelines, the California delegation will be remarkably diverse: 26 percent Latino, 16 percent African-American, 12 percent gay or lesbian, 10 percent 30 or under, 10 percent disabled, 9 percent Asian-Pacific Islander, 1 percent Native American, with a 50-50 split by gender.

The California delegation will truly be the 800-pound gorilla when national Democrats convene in Denver. It includes 554 delegates, alternates and standing committee members. In second place will be New York, with 280.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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