This Is the Time to Become a National Delegate
By Tahir Ali
AMA National Media/PR Chair
If you are following the Presidential race (especially the Obama/Clinton race) it ought to be abundantly clear that the delegates play an important role in the selection process.
This is the time to become a delegate.
Each State is divided into several Congressional districts. Delegates and Alternates are elected from all of these districts - these are the district delegates.
For example, Massachusetts has 10 Congressional districts, and there are 61 District Delegates and 10 Alternates are up for election.
For Massachusetts the following link can be used to find which district your town falls under:
Californians may use the following link.
Others - May use Google search under "congressional districts in [your State]"
The process for becoming either a Republican delegate or Democratic is similar.
The process for electing District Delegate is rather simple: (Criteria: You need to be a registered party member)
1. A letter of intent is mailed.
2. There is a meeting (caucus) per district where these delegates are elected. Normally in these caucus the turnout is not high. In Massachusetts, in case of a Republican Caucus, less than 50 Republicans show up, the turnout in a Democratic Caucus on the average is slightly over 100.
Start by mobilizing the eligible Muslim-Americans to register as Democrats or Republicans. Identify one or two candidates (of each gender if possible) in each district who have the desire to run and have the capability. Then bring as many registered Democrats or Republicans respectively to these Caucuses to support the Muslim candidate(s) of choice. Prepare a three-minute speech with a manifesto - why should you be elected. [The key phrases that may be used are "bringing diversity to the party," "ensuring that the education plank is prominent in the party" ]
If 30 Muslim party registered show up with the candidate(s), it’s almost a done deal. You may form an alliance with a smaller group to get more leverage.
District Delegates or Alternates (both Alternate and delegate - are equally important, both go to the DNC or RNC. The Alternate can only vote if a delegate is absent).
In 1992, adopting the above mentioned strategy spearheaded by Dr. Agha Saeed (AMA National Chair), the first Muslim Delegate(s) ever elected in the United States were here in Massachusetts - Farooq Ansari and Barbara Khan (Alt) were elected in District 3.
READ ON for deadlines and important dates:(Check with State Committee in your State)
Taking Massachusetts as an example, which has a total of 121 Delegates and 16 Alternates of which 81 delegates and 16 Alternates will be elected.
Deadline for submitting Letter of Intent - March 13, 2008
Caucus (where the delegates/Alternates are elected) - Saturday April 5th, 2008
Super-Delegates (aka delegates-at-large - there is a pre-selected slate of names reserved for elected officials, party leaders, payback for huge supporters) - but still allow a write-in.
Delegates-at-large: [20 delegates-at-large and 6 Alternates-at-large ]
Deadline for submitting Letter of Intent - April 11, 2008
Selection at the State Committee Meeting on May 10th, 2008
Delegate-at-Large: The process is not particularly easy. First, a committee member must nominate you for the write-in, then the nomination must be seconded by another committee member. Once over that hurdle, a candidate is given an opportunity to make his/her pitch for the position in a five-minute speech before the state committee. After that process, the voting starts. The majority may have liked you enough to vote for you by writing in your name and striking a name from the slate. But unless they all struck off the same name, you still would not have enough votes.
In 1992, the first two Muslim-Americans Delegate/Alternate-at-large were elected in the United States, Shahid Mahmood from New Jersey and yours truly from Massachusetts.