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North Dakota Democrats Pick Delegates to National Convention

April 16, 1988

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ North Dakota Democrats settled on a largely uncommitted slate of national convention delegates, but Jesse Jackson supporters said Saturday they considered it a victory to win two delegates in this rural, predominantly white state.

Three of the 15 delegates picked at the party’s state convention are pledged to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, and 10 are uncommitted.

Jackson barely qualified for any national delegates at all, receiving support from 16 percent of the state convention delegates. Under Democratic Party rules, a candidate must receive at least 15 percent of the available support to claim any national convention delegates.

Dukakis received support from 25 percent of the state convention delegates, while the uncommitted group accounted for 59 percent of the state convention delegates.

″We feel it’s a very good showing for Jesse in a state that does not have many blacks,″ said Tom Disselhorst, state co-chairman for the Jackson campaign.

He said he hoped that Jackson’s showing ″sends a message to New York that Jesse can do well in conservative, predominantly white states.″

Nearly 96 percent of North Dakota’s population is white.

North Dakota Democrats began their process last month with precinct caucuses, in which Dukakis appeared to have enough strength to claim as many as five national convention delegates. If those results had been followed at the state convention, Jackson would have received three delegates and seven would have been uncommitted.

North Dakotans, however, tend to focus on issues rather than candidates, and more than half of those who are counted as uncommitted actually were supporting issues related to labor and agriculture

Ellen Austin, state coordinator of the Dukakis campaign, said she expected her candidate to attract a number of uncommitted delegates.

Six state party leaders, including Gov. George Sinner and Rep. Byron Dorgan, automatically receive seats as delegates to the national convention.

Sinner is uncommitted, and Dorgan, a former supporter of Rep. Richard Gephardt, is backing Dukakis.

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