the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
The District of Columbia will be sending 39 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, and at this point all but 7 of those delegates have been selected. Of the 39, 15 are pledged delegates allocated according to the results of the February 12 primary, and 24 are unpledged delegates, also known as superdelegates.
DC has an unusually large number of superdelegates because a lot of at-large members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) live here. Even though those DNC members are part of the DC convention delegation, they don’t really represent DC. If one moved to Virginia, for example, before the convention, then that superdelegate position would move with them, and DC would lose one delegate while Virginia gained one.
The 15 pledged delegates consist of 10 district-level delegates, 3 at-large delegates, and 2 pledged PLEO (party leader and elected official) delegates.
District-level delegates. DC has no vote in Congress, so it has no congressional districts, but the city is divided into two fake congressional districts for the purpose of assigning delegates. District 1 is Wards 1 through 4, and District 2 is Wards 5 through 8. Five delegates are selected from each district.
A pool of possible delegates for the various candidates was selected in the pre-primary caucus on January 19 (photos), and then the final delegate selection was determined by the primary on February 12. Since Obama won 70.6 percent of the vote (after eliminating nonviable candidates) in District 1 and 81.9 percent in District 2, he gets 4 of the 5 delegates in each, and Clinton gets 1 in each. There are also slots for alternates — 1 for District 1 and 2 for District 2 — which all go to Obama. Here are the district-level delegates, as announced by the DC Democratic State Committee (DSDSC):
At-large delegates. An additional 3 delegates are allocated on the basis of the overall vote. Since Obama received 76.0%, he gets 2 of the 3, and Clinton gets 1. There’s also 1 alternate, who will be pledged to Obama. These delegates will be selected by the DCDSC on May 1.
Pledged PLEOs. The 2 pledge PLEO positions are also allocated on the basis of the overall vote. As far as I can tell from the calculation method in the DNC rules, that should mean Obama gets both, but I’ve heard that it’s been decided that Obama and Clinton get 1 each. I’m trying to find out more. The Obama position will probably go to DC Council chair Vincent Gray, as the highest ranking Democrat who doesn’t automatically get a superdelegate position. If the second slot goes to Clinton, that position will likely be filled by the Council’s president pro tem, Jack Evans. The decision will be made by the DCDSC on April 3.
Unpledged delegates (superdelegates)
Unpledged delegates need not declare which candidate they support until it’s time for them to vote at the convention. Many do endorse a candidate earlier, though they can always change their minds. DC’s unpledged delegates are made up of 4 elected officials, 18 DNC members, and 2 unpledged add-on delegates.
Elected officials. Since the DNC convention rules treat DC like a state, the mayor counts as a governor, the two shadow senators count as full senators, and the delegate to the House of Representatives counts as a full House member. All are automatically superdelegates as long as they are Democrats, which they all are. All four have also endorsed Obama (Mayor Fenty was his campaign chair in DC):
DNC members. Like the states, DC has representation on the DNC, including the chair and vice chair of the DCDSC. There are also 14 other DNC members who happen to live in DC now. Some of the DNC members have expressed their support for Clinton or Obama, and others have not declared one way or another, as shown below (my information comes from DemConWatch):
Unpledged add-ons. The remaining 2 unpledged delegates are the add-ons, who will be selected by the DCDSC on April 3. There’s been some confusion about whether one of these slots is reserved for the shadow representative. In 2004, shadow rep Ray Browne went as an add-on, and Mike Panetta, the current shadow rep, hopes to do the same.
As things currently stand, it appears that the 39 delegates from DC will include 19 Obama supporters and 14 Clinton supporters. The positions of the remaining 6 — the 4 undeclared DNC members and the 2 add-ons — are unknown.
Update (25 Mar, 10:13am): Clarified last sentence.
Last night I got together with a couple of other DCDL folks to watch the Mississippi returns (yet another smashing victory that Hillary Clinton says doesn’t count). Naturally at some point the conversation turned to Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro’s recent repeated comments about how lucky Barack Obama was to be born black man and how little Clinton had done to distance herself from them. The political analyst at the table suggested that this was part of a strategy to reach out to a certain segment of the white blue-collar vote in Pennsylvania, people who feel resentful of affirmative action. Today I see that Will Bunch is calling it the Archie Bunker strategy.
If Clinton really wants to win over those voters, I say she should hire the guy who made this ad in 1990:
I doubt it will improve her numbers among Democrats in North Carolina, but then North Carolina doesn’t count, right?
Update (4:03pm): Wow. She probably actually does have “the guy” in her contact list. It turns out one of the people involved in making the Helms ad was Dick Morris, who has worked for the Clintons extensively, though he’s not now:
Helms media man Alex Castellanos accused [Morris] of grabbing credit for a TV spot Castellanos had made, the infamous ad showing a pair of white hands crumpling a job-rejection notice while a voice said, “You needed that job … but they had to give it to a minority.”
On NPR this morning, Cokie Roberts talked about the possibility of a Clinton/Obama ticket, describing it as “the Dream Team”. She’s hardly alone.
But a Survey USA poll released last week shows that two thirds of Americans — including 61% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 77% of Republicans — do not want Obama and Clinton to run on a ticket together.
Whose dream is this, exactly?
While I’m at it, Roberts also said that “depending on what count you look at”, Obama is leading Clinton in delegates by 50 to 100. This is true only if by “50 to 100″ she meant 99 to 110. Is it too much to ask that people who appear on national news programs to talk about the presidential election actually know the most basic facts about what’s going on?
I heard To the Point today and was struck by this bit (my transcription):
ANN STONE (national chair, Republicans for Choice): Bottom line: conservatives desperately, desperately want to make sure that Hillary Clinton is never president. In the end, they’re going to go with whoever can stop Hillary. Right now the polls show Giuliani is the first person. Thompson also has a shot. The others fall way below that.
JIM STERNGOLD (guest host): Let me ask you this. That is an interesting point, which I’ve heard, and you make it quite strongly, but why would the Republicans let their race be shaped by the other party?
STONE: Because Hillary Clinton, unlike a lot of the liberal demagogues, actually believes the stuff that she’s talking about. She’s actually going to push a very aggressive agenda and probably do more to shape this country for the next, you know, couple of decades way to the left. She would put everything behind it. She actually believes what she’s saying.
So Stone’s fears about Hillary Clinton are pretty much the opposite of mine. If I thought Clinton was really the most liberal of the Democratic presidential candidates, that she really believed in a liberal agenda, and that she wanted to aggressively reshape the country, I’d feel a lot better about her being the front runner. Instead I think she’s the worst of both worlds: a candidate who’s really not that liberal (and so won’t bring the change that’s needed if she wins) but is viewed by much of the electorate as being far too liberal (and so will have more trouble winning than she should).
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