09 27 2016
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FREMONT, Neb. (AP) -- Eighteen-year-old Nick Jensen had a message for Nebraska Democrats in Fremont on Saturday: Don't ignore the young people.
Others complained minorities wouldn't be well-represented in the delegation Nebraska sends to the Democratic National Convention.
"I don't believe the delegates represent my age group or race," said Ashley Adams, 24, of Omaha, who is Black. "I feel like my voice is not being heard and I'm not being represented."
Adams and Jensen were among 450 Nebraskans at the state Party's convention who were vying for 24 spots as delegates to the national convention in Denver in August.
Jensen, of Norfolk, withdrew his name to support other young hopefuls in the 1st District, and was disappointed when they didn't win.
"We have the most to lose and the most to gain from this election," said Jensen, who will be a sophomore at New York University this year.
But it's intimidating to get involved, and the rules are confusing, many at the convention said.
"The Obama campaign has so many new people energized, but the rules have been crafted for ... the past," said Tanya Cook, 43, of Omaha, who's running for state Legislature.
State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, 66, encouraged new people not to be discouraged -- after all, he wasn't picked to go to Denver either, and he's been involved in the state Party since 1974.
"Don't give up," was his advice. "You've got so much enthusiasm."
Longtime Party members said they've never seen so many people who want to travel to the national convention. Matt Connealy, executive director of the state Party, said in 2004, there were about 75 hopefuls.
"It's Obama"' said former Lincoln mayor Don Wesley. "He's making a difference."
The state will send 31 delegates to the convention. Six are party leaders and elected officials called superdelegates, and one is an uncommitted delegate elected at the convention -- Kenny Mass of Omaha. All six superdelegates are committed to Obama. Sixteen of the delegates chosen Saturday are committed to Obama, and eight to Clinton, based on Nebraskans' votes.
Also Saturday, Lincoln attorney Vic Covalt was elected as the state Party's new chairman.
U.S Sen. Ben Nelson, a superdelegate, laid out the stakes for the Party early in the day. The Democrat said the state could deliver two electoral votes to Obama.
Nebraska can split its five electoral votes, although it's never happened before. One is awarded to the winner of each of the three congressional districts; the other two go to the statewide winner.
Some Democrats think Obama could win in the 1st and 2nd districts, in eastern Nebraska. In a tight race, Nelson said the state could even deliver the winning vote to Obama.
The Democrats' biggest meeting of the year was marked by several outbursts.
Dozens of Democrats, mostly from the 2nd Congressional District, were frustrated that a paperwork problem kept them from being considered as delegates to the national convention.
Some said they didn't know they had to submit a form to the state Party, while others said they submitted the form but still weren't on the list.
Preston Love Jr. of Omaha said he didn't know a form was required and takes responsibility. But he said he wishes communication had been better, especially because many Blacks were excluded.
"They're trying to make light of it, but it's a very serious issue," he said. "These people are those who are here and they're excited and we're cutting them off."
The Douglas County party's executive director, Kris Pierce, said any forms submitted to their office were turned over to the state Party.
State Party spokesman Eric Van Horn said they did everything they could to make sure delegates knew they had to submit forms and were careful with the paperwork.

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