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Black Democratic wing says Clinton frontrunner

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Democratic Conference, the black wing of the state Democratic Party, may bypass Sen. Barack Obama and give its endorsement to Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday.

"I'd say she's the front-runner," Chairman Joe Reed said in an interview Monday.

The ADC is meeting Friday and Saturday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover. Clinton will address the group's luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and then ADC members from across the state will gather in private to decide which candidate the organization will support in Alabama's presidential primary Feb. 5.

ADC's rules may help determine who gets the endorsement Saturday. The statewide organization gives endorsements only to candidates who ask for it in person. All Democratic presidential candidates have been invited to the meeting this weekend, but only Clinton has accepted so far, Reed said Monday.

The Alabama New South Coalition, another predominantly black political organization with statewide influence, will meet Dec. 1 in Montgomery to make its endorsement. One of the group's founders, state Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, said last week it's too early to say who might get the nod, but Obama and Clinton are the two candidates talked about most often by members. Reed calls the ADC endorsement session "the first caucus in the nation" and predicted it will give an important boost to the winner.

"The ADC endorsement has been a reliable predictor of who will eventually become the Democratic Party's nominee," he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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