Democrats adopt platform, blast GOP, wrap up state convention

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada's Democratic Party activists wrapped up a state convention Sunday, taking potshots at Republicans, adopting a platform and organizing the crew going to a national convention in mid-August.

The 29 delegates and superdelegates to the national session, being held in Los Angeles, are solidly behind Vice President Al Gore in his battle against George W. Bush for the presidency. But they're all over the map on who they'd like Gore to pick as his running mate.

Platform planks approved at the convention - but often ignored by Democratic candidates around the state if they're courting moderate or conservative voters - generally came under the ''liberal'' heading.

The platform is pro-choice, in favor of equal rights for women, minorities and gays, against mandatory school prayer or private school vouchers, for comprehensive campaign finance reform, and for improvements to welfare, Medicaid, senior citizen and other social service programs.

There's also strong opposition to a high-level nuclear waste dump in Nevada and to federal regulation or taxation of Nevada's casino industry - among the few planks likely to be matched by Republicans at their state convention next weekend in Carson City.

Speaker after speaker at the Democratic convention promoted the party's candidates - especially U.S. Senate hopeful Ed Bernstein. That included U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the keynote speaker, who labeled GOP Senate contender John Ensign a ''dangerous'' conservative.

Ensign said later that Boxer's comments were ''laughable.'' He added he doubts that Boxer ''could get elected to anything in this state.''

Bernstein, preceded by gospel singers and sign-waving supporters chanting ''We want Ed,'' told some 400 cheering delegates on Saturday that his candidacy is ''about special people, not special interests.''

He was introduced by Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., who's vacating the seat that Bernstein and Ensign want. Bryan praised Bernstein as ''an advocate for the underdog.''

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who barely beat Ensign two years ago, also urged the delegates to back Bernstein, along with U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

The Democrats also resolved a hassle over central committee meetings that have been held for years in Tonopah - by narrowly voting to skip the long drive to the central Nevada town and hold the meetings in Las Vegas and Reno.

Also chosen were the delegates to the Democratic National Convention. In all, 29 elected delegates and automatic superdelegates will attend the convention, to be held in mid-August in Los Angeles.

At the delegation's first organizing session on Sunday, state Democratic Party chairman Rory Reid was the unanimous choice for delegation chairman.

National convention delegates from the Las Vegas area include: Sam Lieberman; David Hoggard Jr.; Ed Zimmer; Estella Morales; Nancy Harkess; Assembly members Vonne Chowning, David Parks and Kathy McClain; Tod Story; Ronni Council; Danielle Cook; Sandra Hudgens; Russell Davis; Debbie Kinsora; and Alma Rosa Mendoza.

Delegates from the Reno-Carson area: Gail Scalzi; Charlie Cox; Travis Sousa; Michael Pennington; and former Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza.

Superdelegates include: Rory Reid; U.S. Sens. Reid and Bryan; Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa; Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates; Rep. Berkley; state Democratic 1st Vice-Chairwoman Carol Cox; former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones; and former Rep. Jim Bilbray.

Jones was re-elected national committeewoman, and Bilbray was re-elected national committeeman.

Alternates include David Love from Washoe County; Ellen Nakamura of Las Vegas; Steve Sampson of North Las Vegas; and Diane Guinn of Las Vegas.


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