Area delegates pledge support to Obama
San Jacinto News- Times - June 2008
AUSTIN -- Lively smiles and enthusiastic greetings among Texas Democrats kicked off the 2008 State Democratic Convention held Friday and Saturday in Austin, Texas, where nearly 22,000 people participated in what some say is the most exciting presidential race yet. Over 7,000 delegates from every corner of the state attended the convention to cast their votes for Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 200 of those delegates represented Senate District 3, which comprises16 East Texas counties including Polk and San Jacinto.
At the convention’s general session meeting, the Texas Democratic Party televised Clinton’s speech live in which she suspended her campaigned and endorsed Obama. She urged Democrats to unite as a party and fully support Obama. Several speakers at the convention echoed this need for unity, including Chelsea Clinton who spoke on behalf of her mother. “I want this to be very clear: we are going to unite our party and support and elect Senator Obama in November,” Chelsea Clinton said, followed by cheers and applause from the crowd.
San Jacinto County sent a few fi rsttime delegates to the convention, including Richard and Mary Masterson, who both feel that party unity is imperative. “I came here in support of Hillary, but I will defi nitely vote for Obama. It’s the way the Democratic process works,” Mary Masterson said. San Jacinto County Chair to the convention Judge Richard Countiss believes the residents of his county will come together.
“At this point, electing a Democrat as president is much more important than any specifi c candidate and I hope everyone knows that,” Judge Countiss said. Party unity is also important to Polk County Chair Sharon Teal who has been involved in the Democratic Party for nearly 20 years. “I came to the convention for Hillary, but I will vote for Obama and I will work to get out the vote for him in Polk County,” Teal said. Clinton’s decision to concede deeply saddened some of her delegates, such as Helen Felder from Polk County.
“I cried when I saw her speech. It just broke my heart. She is a beautiful, brilliant woman,” Felder said. Despite Clinton’s concession, 42 percent of Texas delegates voted for her. Senate District 3 Committeeman, Dr. Dennis Teal from Polk County, dealt with many disappointed Clinton voters throughout the convention.
“This type of event has to be scheduled at least three and a half years in advance and there was no way to predict that all this with Clinton would happen at the same time as the convention,” Dr. Teal said. Then again, Obama gained support from 57 percent of the state’s delegates. One such delegate, Polk County’s Berdie Cooper, had only one response to Obama’s victory. “I am just so happy—more than I can even tell you in words,” Cooper said with a grin.