Posted on Mon, Mar. 31, 2008 Obama is victor in weekend caucuses http://www.star-telegram.com/275/story/553261.html By JAY ROOT Star-Telegram Staff Writer Barack Obama dominated Hillary Clinton over the weekend in round two of the state caucus process, leaving the Illinois senator poised to win more pledged national delegates from Texas despite narrowly losing the popular vote in early March. The result won't be official until the Democrats meet at their state party convention in June, but Obama's organizational strengths -- which helped him win 14 of the last 17 caucuses -- put him on track to beat the former first lady in Texas by a net margin of three to five delegates. The Clinton campaign, which had strongly criticized the caucuses as chaotic and prone to shenanigans, acknowledged that she lost the state senatorial district conventions to Obama on Saturday and Sunday but said it is too soon to make precise delegate predictions. Preliminary, unofficial counts indicated that Obama handily won all three senatorial district conventions in Tarrant County. Bitter battle The fact that the two candidates are still fighting -- weeks after the elections -- so intensely over what appears to be at most three Texas delegates indicates how bitter and closely contested the 2008 Democratic race is. Obama leads Clinton nationally by about 124 delegates, according to Associated Press estimates. Former Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who leads Clinton's campaign efforts in Texas, said Obama is ahead in Texas by one to three delegates in the overall count, not including superdelegates. But he said Clinton, a New York senator, could make improvements as the process moves forward. "It looks like he's got a small lead, but it's a lot smaller than it was on election night," Mauro said. Obama aides said their caucus support has remained steady and projected a net gain of five delegates from Texas, the same lead they claimed after the March 4 precinct-level caucuses. "I want to thank the record-setting number of Texans who participated in the caucuses and helped our campaign secure an important victory in Texas," Obama said in a written statement released by his campaign late Sunday. "Texans from across the state sent a crystal clear message that families across America are ready for change in Washington." Texas Democrats have an election-day primary, when voters cast their ballots in secret, and a caucus, when people publicly profess their allegiance to a candidate in open meetings. Of the 126 delegates awarded via the primaries, Clinton won 65 to Obama's 61. There are 67 delegates up for grabs in the caucus process: Obama says he'll win 38-29. Clinton aides say Obama's caucus lead is no greater than 37-30 and could shrink to 36-31. Last step in June The caucus process began on election day -- March 4 -- and concludes at the Democratic state convention, June 5-7 in Austin. Close to 1 million people participated in the caucuses March 4. About 100,000 attended the 284 conventions held in counties and Senate districts statewide this weekend, officials said. Ultimately, all delegates will go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August. Clinton supporters challenged the credentials of many of Obama's supporters who showed up at the weekend conventions. But figures show that Obama retained an advantage of about 10 percentage points, or roughly 55-45, in the caucuses, unofficial results show. Texas has 228 Democratic nominating delegates, the second-largest cache in the nation. Of those, 193 are awarded by primary and caucus voters. Thirty-five others are superdelegates who can vote for whomever they wish.