Capitol Alert

How Republicans and Democrats pick California delegates to conventions

The district-level delegate – that typically under-appreciated cog in the machinery of presidential elections – could wield huge clout in Cleveland if no candidate arrives at the Republican National Convention with the nomination locked up. The prospect of multiple ballots isn’t out of the question.

Drama on the Democratic side continues, and could follow the candidates into the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The city’s history – and its cheese steak – is hard to beat.

Here’s how the California delegations are coming together for the July conventions.

California Democratic delegation

By the numbers

  • Total delegates: 546
  • District-level delegates: 317 – allocated by congressional district based on population and presidential voting in prior elections
  • At-large delegates: 105 delegates confirmed at a statewide delegation meeting on June 19 and subject to approval by the presidential candidate they pledge to support
  • Party leaders and elected officials: 53, including big-city mayors, statewide elected officials and legislative leaders
  • Unpledged delegates, known as superdelegates: 71, including California members of Congress and Gov. Jerry Brown

How to get in: District-level delegates are selected at pre-primary caucuses in their congressional districts on May 1, in a process run by the presidential campaigns with assistance from the state party. Find information about caucuses on the state party’s website,

Potential district-level delegates had to file a form with the California Democratic Party by Wednesday. The filing deadline for at-large delegates is June 9.

Requirements: District-level delegates are required to be registered Democrats who live in the congressional district they seek to represent. They are required to pledge support to a candidate and to run in their pre-primary caucuses.

Cost: The Democratic Party puts a focus on diversifying its delegation, encouraging women and minorities to become delegates and emphasizing on its website that the cost of attending the convention is “not meant to preclude anyone from running as a delegate.” But the trip to Philadelphia for the July 25-28 convention isn’t cheap.

The state party has a block of rooms at the Marriott Hotel Philadelphia Downtown that run $650 a night. It estimates the total cost of attending the convention at $3,600 to $4,100 per delegate.

The field of candidates for Republicans and Democrats is narrowing down in the 2016 presidential race. These front-runners have different campaign styles and carry with them their own special rally atmospheres and celebrity supporters.

California Republican delegation

By the numbers

  • Total delegates: 172
  • District-level delegates: 159 – three delegates each to the winner of each congressional district
  • At-large delegates: 10 – all 10 to the candidate who receives the most statewide votes
  • Pre-determined delegates: 3 – California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte, National Committeewoman Linda Ackerman and National Committeeman Shawn Steel

How to get in: Republican delegates are chosen by the presidential candidates, not the California Republican Party. You can apply directly to the campaigns or on the state party’s website, at

The three Republican contenders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, are vetting potential delegates in the state. Representatives of the campaigns said they will not make delegate lists public until they are filed with the state.

The deadline for candidates to submit names of delegates to the California secretary of state is May 8.

Requirements: District-level delegates are required to be registered Republicans who live in the congressional district they seek to represent. In addition to attending the national convention, delegates must attend a delegation meeting on June 25 near Los Angeles International Airport and must commit to vote, at least initially, for the presidential candidate by whom they are picked.

Cost: Everything at the July 18-21 convention, from hotel rooms to hot dogs will come at a premium. With lodging for five nights, food, travel and a $900 “participation charge,” the state party estimates costs ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per delegate.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders