Brenda Krause is tired of fear mongering among the Democrats.
When Clinton dropped out of the running, Krause mourned that her generation likely isn’t going to see a woman claim the Oval Office.
That day, she vowed to stick with the New York senator.
“I’m not going to be coerced into something I don’t believe in,” said Krause, who lives in Colorado Springs and owns a real estate office. “That makes me less unified. If they let me have my voice, I’ll feel more unified.”
So go the voices of dozens of national delegates across the country, pledged to the New York senator, who say they are flummoxed about what to do when they are asked to cast a vote in a few weeks.
Though the majority of the Democratic party backs Sen. Barack Obama, an undercurrent of staunch and loyal Clinton supporters say they’ll fight all the way to the national convention, which begins in Denver in 18 days, to put her name on the ballot.
Jenny Backus, a senior Obama adviser and convention liasion in Denver, said across the country Obama and Clinton delegates have forged ties.
“Sen. Clinton will obviously play a critical role during this convention,” Backus said. “Already we’ve seen a tremendous reaching out. I’ve heard of Obama delegates going to Clinton debt reduction parties. We’re one party.”
But for many Clinton delegates, it is about principle.
Because they were chosen by her supporters in districts across the country, many say they won’t feel like they fulfilled their duty until they cast a vote for her — however futile that might be.
“I will come on board the unity train with a first class ticket if, before doing so, I get the opportunity to vote for my candidate,” said Daniel Kagan, a property developer and lawyer from Arapahoe County. “On Aug. 28, when Obama accepts the nomination, I will be there cheering along with the rest of them, but only if I have had the chance to vote first.”
Kagan is among a small group of people working to garner 300 signatures from national delegates to complete DNC rule requirements to put Clinton’s name back on the ballot. Even if they get enough signatures, Clinton must agree to have her name placed on the ballot.
Rules of the convention require a roll call vote, and stipulate that “delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination.” The national committee can decide how to handle those votes.
Asked whether Clinton’s name would be on the ballot, Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth said, “(DNC chair) Gov. Dean has said that’s up to her, whether she will put her name in nomination.”
Clinton has said in Youtube postings and in a Web chat Thursday that she is working with the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign to find a solution.
Texas delegate Linda Figueroa, a 53-year-old paralegal from Corpus Christi, said the pledged Clinton supporters were told in a delegate conference call this week that they would not get to vote for her. She said the senator’s scheduled speech on the floor of the Pepsi Center Tuesday evening Aug. 26 was “not enough.”
“We (the Clinton delegates) are really having our ups and downs,” Figueroa said. “She deserves more than what she’s going to get.”
Other Clinton delegates said privately that they were afraid to speak out against the Democratic National Committee or Obama, for fear of getting their credentials yanked at the convention.
Debra Bartoshevich, a Wisconsin delegate who after Clinton dropped out said she planned to support Republican John McCain, already has been kicked off the national delegation.
Yet, the Obama campaign says it is working hard to solidify the party.
“I think the Obama campaign has tremendous respect for Sen. Clinton and the millions of Americans who supported and worked for her candidacy,” said Obama spokeswoman Shannon Gilson. “We’ve been reaching out to her supporters to join this campaign for change and are struck by how unified Dems are.”
One of the olive branch Clinton delegates is Hector Balderas, the 34-year-old state auditor of New Mexico. He supported Clinton because he liked her policies surrounding high school dropouts. Now he’s traversing the state pushing the message for Obama.
“I wouldn’t see it as a coronation if we were unified with a particular candidate,” Balderas said, adding that putting the party together “would be preparation to do battle” against McCain.
The grassroots group of Clinton supporters say they have nearly 200 signatures notarized to put her name on the convention ballot, with commitments from at least 100 more.
In an attempt to inspire the masses, Kagan, a delegate from Colorado’s 1st Congressional district, quotes French philosopher Voltaire.
“I don’t agree with the way you intend to vote, but I fight for the death for your right to vote,” he said
Others, like Will Bower, a founder of Project Unity My A--, or PUMA, are not ready to support Obama.
“Most of us are still working toward getting Hillary the nomination,” he said. “We still see a path for victory in Denver.”
At the convention, vociferous Clinton supporters will protest and hold signs that will read “Denounce Nobama’s Coronation.”
“My group and I are not looking to be arrested,” said Simone DuBois, who lives in northern California and filmed the Youtube video from a Clinton fundraiser last week that is madly circulating the country.
DuBois plans to protest in Denver, and said she’ll probably vote for McCain. “I always thought the Democratic party had my values until this.”
A political action committee called The Denver Group is raising money to pay for newspaper advertisements calling on the the DNC to allow a vote on both primary candidates and “not a coronation.”
Another group plans to air a documentary called “The Audacity of Democracy”, which highlights voter confusion during the 2008 Democratic primaries.
Allowing delegates to vote for their chosen candidate gives them an opportunity to celebrate that candidate and their work on the campaign, said former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988.
At the convention in ’84, Hart said, each of his 1,200 delegates voted for him “with no defections.”
“My people put on a massive demonstration, it went on for 10 or 15 minutes,” Hart said. “They felt very good about it afterward.”
Hart believes Clinton, a longtime Party loyalist, will want to prevent protests and help Obama get elected.
“She has a future in the party,” Hart said. “She has very little interest nor does her husband in wrecking Obama’s chances because it will be held against them very, very strongly. She has a lot of reasons to pull an oar and I think she will.”
Since July, Obama staffers say they’ve reached out to Clinton delegates by phone and email and have invited them to community events and local platform meetings.
Yet some delegates say the process has left them bruised.
Awilda Marquez, a Colorado delegate, said she feels like his campaign has been dismissive of the Clinton supporters.
“They say they don’t need us … I don’t spend 30 seconds a day thinking about that,” Marquez said. “When I see a top woman being called a whore and a she-goat … I can’t forget that.”
Allison Sherry and Anne C. Mulkern are reporters for The Denver Post. Their work can be read at Politicswest.com.