LOS ANGELES--Barack Obama's and Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaigns are purging potential California delegates to ensure that only their loyalists vote at the national convention that will crown one of them as the Democratic presidential nominee.
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Locked in a race with an uncertain outcome, representatives for both camps this week directed the California Democratic Party to remove dozens of names from the lists of more than 2,000 potential delegates. Party caucuses scheduled for Sunday will elect a slate of delegates for each candidate.
Driven by fears that some prospective delegates might be concealing their true allegiances, the campaigns are searching campaign finance data, scouring the Internet and making telephone calls to weed out dubious candidates.
Neither side wants to elect a delegate who might really support their rival, or other candidate.
Most of the cutting was done by Obama. His campaign dropped about 900 potential delegates, compared to about 50 excluded on Clinton's side.
They "want to make sure the people who are running for delegate for their candidate are going to stay true to that candidate," said Roger Salazar, a Democratic operative running as a Clinton delegate. "If they see somebody who is a supporter of the other side, they are going to knock them off" the list.
More than 4,000 delegates from across the country will travel to Denver in August for the Democratic National Convention, where the nominee will be chosen. Slots for 241 delegates divvied up in California's Feb. 5 presidential primary -- 134 for Clinton and 107 for Obama -- will be awarded Sunday.
Some say the notion of Trojan Horse delegates may be overstated.
"Most delegates are legitimate, but with this convention no one is taking any chances," said Steven Maviglio, who's running as a Clinton delegate and is an aide to her national co-chair, state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. "At this point of the game, each campaign wants its delegates to be 100 percent committed."
Suspicions about delegate loyalty have been heightened because the party has no rules guaranteeing they must vote at the convention for the candidate to which they are pledged during elections.
Clinton trails Obama both in the popular vote and in pledged delegates, and has said she will take her fight for the nomination to Denver if necessary. Clinton also has hinted that hopes to persuade some of Obama's delegates to switch sides and back her instead.
"There is no such thing as a pledged delegate," she said last week.
Neither campaign would comment Wednesday.
The delegates at stake in Sunday's caucuses represent a portion of those from California who will attend the convention. Others include 71 superdelegates, who range from members of Congress to former party leaders, and another group of 129 delegates to be chosen in May.
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