DPVA Convention update: locality caucuses and beyond

We've seen a lot of Bernie supporters brought to the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) delegate process for the first time this cycle, and there's a lot of confusion as to what is going on and what people need to do. We've been seeing a lot of questions on Facebook about locality caucuses and  how they work, so we've put together this post to try and answer all of those questions in one place.

There has been some confusion over the term 'caucus' for those who have been watching the contests in states like Colorado, Iowa, Washington and so forth. The only similarity between those and what's happening at local DPVA committee caucuses is in the sense that both are 'meetings of members of a particular political party to select candidates". In general, these caucuses will resemble at-large City Council elections: there will be a limited number of seats available to the potential delegates, and seats will be filled based on the highest vote getters. If you pre-filed as a delegate and are participating in the caucus, get your friends and family to come to the caucus and vote for you! And you can of course vote for yourself. There are assembled and non-assembled caucuses, basically ones where the doors are locked at a certain time for voting and those where people can just drop in during a certain time, file their vote and leave. Some non-assembled caucuses may also have early voting available as well. Caucus voters must reside in the locality and CD for which they are voting.

Please note also that participants, both delegates and caucus voters may be required to affirm that they intend to support the Democratic nominee in the general election. The actual wording in the DPVA Party Plan (Article 2, Section 2.2) is: "No person shall participate […] who intends to support a candidate opposed to any Democratic nominee in that general or special election." Read into that as you will. 

If you received a message from your locality chair stating that you were selected as a Bernie delegate or alternate, that the quota was not exceed, and that the caucus for your district was cancelled, yes, it is (probably) legit. It either means that we either have the correct number of delegates, or came short. In the event that we have unfilled locality delegate slots on the day of the District convention, we will have the opportunity to fill them by getting people to show up and request to do so that day.

As of today, we do not have comprehensive lists of delegates from any DPVA committee. For the moment, we need to focus on identifying caucus vs. non-caucus localities and help identify potential Bernie delegates who are either members of Virginia for Bernie or our associate groups, or are known to us. The goal being to ensure that Clinton supporters are not crossing the line to be a Bernie delegate just for purposes of attending the DPVA State convention as a delegate. If you are in a non-caucus locality, please contact your DPVA chair and ask for a list of Bernie delegates and contact information that filed in your CD, so that we can figure out who will be attending the District conventions and start coordinating and communicating with them.

The next step after these locality caucuses will be preparing for the District conventions themselves. The purpose of these conventions will be to elect delegates to the DNC convention. In total, Bernie has 33 delegates from Virginia. I've yet to see exact breakdowns by candidates yet, but the number of delegates by CD is below. In addition to the 62 CD delegates, there will also be 33 State at-large delegates selected, as well as 14 super delegates, or Party Leader Elected Officials (PLEOs). Please note that the DPVA has an affirmative action selection process, meaning that where possible, delegates must be equally divided by males and females, and that minorities should be represented as well.

We need to identify who plans on going to Philly for Bernie, and some fundraising will be in order. Hotel rooms for the 3-day DNC convention are currently running $300-400 a night, so we need to help people with the funds for travel, lodging and food.  We'll figure out if GoFundMe campaigns are in order, if the Sanders campaign will contribute, or if we'll need some other kind of action to raise money.

I also want to address concerns or wishful thinking about our ability to lose or gain delegates to the DNC convention. Unlike what we have seen in other true caucus states, or are hearing with regard to the GOP convention, there's little we can do to change things now. The DPVA rules require delegates to vote for the candidate they are pledged to, based on the proportional allocation results from the March 1 primary. Unlike the GOP convention drama between Cruz, Trump, Kasich and the delegates held by other candidates, there is zero chance than the DNC convention will go beyond a single round of voting, so it doesn’t matter whether or not delegates can become unbound or not.

What we will be trying to accomplish with all of this delegate mumbo-jumbo over the next two months is to drive the DPVA and DNC platforms toward the issues that Bernie has been raising this election. Everyone has the opportunity to put forward resolutions to the DPVA convention, and we intend to put forward our own on the following issues:

  • Oppose the TPP
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour
  • Medicare for All
  • Support the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget for 2017  http://cpcbudget.org

If you would like to contribute in crafting the resolutions for these issues, or on one of your own, please let us know.

And for the same reason, it's important that we get our 33 delegates to the DNC convention as well. No matter who the nominee is, we want to have our people there, whether to celebrate a Bernie nod, or, failing that, extract concessions from the DNC regarding future primaries, lobbying, platform issues and the like. This Revolution will continue.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. There's a long way to go and we need your help. Give us your input in these matters as well as how to organize moving forward; we're trying to organize a movement beyond Bernie, to help organize Virginia Progressives and Liberals under a common banner, to take over the Democratic establishment from within and win back Virginia's General Assembly from corporate donors and the legislators that support their interests over those of their electorate. Please join ForVirginia.org as a founding member, for free, and help build a movement to organize and mobilize Virginia voters in Federal, State, and local elections. Thank you.


I think you are wrong about there not being a second vote.  Neither Hillary or Bernie is going to get the required votes when they take that first vote.  Then they call for a second, and people can flip.  Then, they might even call for a third vote before they call the Super Delegates in to vote.  I think it is very, very likely that the DNC is competitive this year.

Michael Brandon Wade's picture

My understanding is that the superdelegates will cast their vote the first ballot along with all the pledged delegates. Clinton may not clinch before convention, but I'm pretty sure there will only be one ballot.

I read Frank Leone's rules, and you are right, I was mistaken.

MaryBethCollins's picture

I would appreciate any info re what I might expect Saturday, May 7 at Nelson Co. HS meeting at 11:00? 

An email said: "the convention will have an agenda which includes names and small ads."   

It would just be helpful to have an idea before going as I am new to the process.  Thanks!