- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Several prominent Democrats won’t be delegates at this summer’s Democratic National Convention, after being prevented from doing so by their state party leadership.

New York’s Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi is the first Democrat elected to the post since 1917, but he was not selected for an at-large delegate seat to the convention, which will be in Boston from July 26 to 29. The same thing happened to Maryland State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, the top Democrat in a statewide seat. And in Georgia, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who is running for her old congressional seat this year, wasn’t given a slot, while Sen. Zell Miller said he won’t attend the convention — period.

Mr. Suozzi, 41, who raised $100,000 in April for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, was appointed to the Massachusetts senator’s campaign-finance team said, Kim Devlin, spokeswoman for the Nassau County Democratic Committee.

“Tom enjoys a great working relationship with the [Democratic National Committee], party Chairman Terry McAuliffe and John Kerry, and he should have been named an at-large delegate by the state party,” Miss Devlin said.

The county executive was snubbed by New York Democrats after publicly criticizing state representatives in Albany for wasteful spending and unfunded mandates. It also didn’t help that he created the Fix Albany Political Committee with former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who is supporting President Bush, and Mike Long, chairman of New York’s Conservative Party.

Democratic party insiders said such snubs are not an indication of the party’s drift in one direction or another. They said state committees always leave someone out of the limited superdelegate and at-large seats. There are 783 at-large seats, 720 superdelegates and 82 add-ons.

“I don’t think it is unusual, and I can’t imagine this is about some expansive movement to either way,” said former DNC staffer Terry Michael, who now heads the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism.

He said snubs happen in both parties, citing the recent cold-shoulder given to D.C. Council member David Catania, at-large Republican, by his party.

Mr. Catania, who is openly homosexual, said he could not support President Bush after hearing the president’s proposal to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex “marriages.” He was not included as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in New York, and resigned from the D.C. Republican Committee last week, although he said he will not switch parties.

Conventions are often the site of snubbings. In 1992 and 1996, Robert Casey, a popular two-term governor of Pennsylvania, was denied an opportunity to speak at the Democratic convention because of his outspoken pro-life views.

On the Republican side, in 2000, Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro, the highest elected Republican in the state at the time, was not selected as a delegate to the national convention because of his pro-choice stance and consistent acquiescence to Democrats in the somewhat liberal state.

However, in the case of Mr. Miller, the conservative senator from Georgia made his own decision not to go to Boston.

“I have serious issues with the party right now,” Mr. Miller said in a conference call last month.

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