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Vermont Democrats And Republicans Hold Party Conventions This Weekend To Choose Delegates

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With Senator Bernie Sanders making a run at the White House and Governor Peter Shumlin not seeking another term, it’s been one of the busiest years yet in Green Mountain politics. This weekend, Vermont Republicans and Democrats will gather for their state party conventions.
As Republicans and Democrats prepare for the national conventions this summer each state will meet to choose their slate of delegates.  Vermont Republicans meet Saturday at the Sheraton in South Burlington.   Executive Director Jeff Bartley says the gathering serves a number of purposes.   “We have to elect a national committeeman and committeewoman who will represent Vermont for the next four years at the Republican National Committee. We will also be electing our delegates who will be voting for the presidential candidates at the Republican National Convention in July. So that's the true purpose of the convention. However it's really also an awesome opportunity to rally the party before we head into a very, very busy election year.”

Democrats hold their state convention Sunday at the Barre Opera House. Party Executive Director Conor Casey expects 600 people to attend and choose their national delegates.  “The longest part of the day will be electing the 11 district level delegates for Senator Sanders. There's been an unprecedented level of interest in this and at this point we're up to 117 candidates for those national delegate spots. We'll also be electing our DNC committeeman and committeewoman. But in addition we have many, many of our candidates for 2016. This is just a wonderful time for Democrats to get ready for the campaign trail.”

Vermont GOP Chair David Sunderland says the party will elect 13 delegates as well as 13 alternates from the dozens of people interested.   “There's more energy and more interest in this election than those that I can remember in the previous two cycles anyway.  I think part of that has to do with the candidates. But I think part of also has to do with the condition of our state and the condition of our country. I think people are looking for a change.”

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis points out that the way delegates from both parties will vote on the first ballot at the party conventions has already been determined by a combination of state law and party rules.   “On the Republican side many elected Republican officials in Vermont do not like Donald Trump. So I don't think any high profile Republicans are going to be on the delegation to the Republican convention in Cleveland. It will mostly be party operatives. On the Democratic side all of the elected delegates have to vote for Bernie Sanders. But then there are ten other Democratic delegates, the so-called super delegates, and a few of them are going to be voting for Hillary Clinton. And I wouldn't be surprised if there was an attempt at the state convention to pass some sort of a resolution that would compel all of Vermont’s delegates to vote for Bernie Sanders.”

The Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland starting July 18th.  It’s followed by the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia beginning July 25th.

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