At the state democratic convention in Spokane last weekend, Jack Laurence, the grandson of legendary Washington State Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, lost his bid to represent the state at the national convention in August. Laurence had hoped to represent Clinton and although he wasn’t available, his father said the experience left him older and wiser.
“I think it was a little bit of an eye-opener,” says Dan Laurence. The younger Laurence quickly fell in with a group of Hillary supporters but couldn’t quite garner enough attention to get elected. Part of the problem – for Laurence, not the state - was the state democratic party’s push for diversity. While neither Jack nor his father think diversity is a bad thing, the state party wanted at-large delegates of ethnicities that hadn’t been elected at the congressional caucuses.
Paul Berendt, a former chairman of the state democratic party, is a delegate for Clinton this year. He explains:
“About a year ago, the state party adopted an affirmative action plan; the party wanted its delegations to be an accurate representation of the state,” Berendt says. State delegations should contain accurate representations of the African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, GBLT and disabled communities, Berendt says. At this year’s congressional caucuses, most of those obligations were fulfilled. However, the party met only about half of its obligation for the Hispanic community, Berendt says. There were also an inordinate number of men. Therefore, Berendt says, out of the 10 at-large Clinton delegates, six of them needed to be women, four needed to be men and three needed to be Hispanic of either gender. Some 100 people ran for those 10 spots. About 60 percent of them were male, Berendt says. Therefore, the odds – already long – were a bit more so for Laurence.
Nevertheless, Berendt says, he tried to help the young Laurence as much as he could.
“Jackson is still a legendary name in the state,” Berendt says. “I remember being a kid and meeting him and chills ran up my spine. I tried to help that kid because I thought he was kind of a neat kid.”
The experience may not be a complete loss as Jack may get to go to the convention anyway.
“I told him I would go to bat for him so he could go to the convention in some other role,” Berendt says. “And I will do that.”
Laurence wasn’t the only young delegate who walked away disappointed. Jack Nettleton, also 17, is the grandson of Booth Gardner. However, unlike the other Jack, Littleton had hoped to represent Obama. He wasn’t elected either.
“It’s ok,” his father, John Nettleton says. “It was a good experience for him. He had fun.”