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Idaho Democrats proud of delegates’ diversity

SUNDAY, SEPT. 28, 2008

Idaho Democrats are touting the diversity of the North Idaho delegation they sent to the Democratic National Convention, a group that included two black men, a Native American woman, a white woman and a gay man.

That’s from an area that is predominantly white: Kootenai County is 96.3 percent white, according to 2006 census figures.

“It looks like America; it doesn’t look like North Idaho,” said Mary Lou Reed, a former Democratic state senator.

“This reflects that we are as a Democratic party alive and well and asserting our appreciation of diversity,” Reed said. North Idaho’s delegation was a microcosm of a state delegation that included five Native Americans; three blacks; three Hispanics; three Asians; three gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people; and three people with disabilities, said state Democratic Party Chairman R. Keith Roark.

No quotas were involved, Roark said, but the delegate selection plan encourages an ethnic mix and requires balance in terms of gender.

“What we ended up with was incredible in terms of ethnic mix,” Roark said. “I would suspect that we probably have the most diverse delegation of any of the 50 states.”

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