the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

March 24, 2008

DC’s Democratic Convention Delegates: Who’s Going to Denver, and How Will They Vote?


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.

Pledged delegates

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.

March 12, 2008

Ferraro in the Bunker


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.”

March 10, 2008

Dream Team?


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?

January 26, 2008

Rally With Obama in DC Monday


Looks like the Obama campaign is thinking our February 12 regional primary in DC, Maryland, and Virginia may be important:

Please join Barack Obama at a ‘Stand for Change’ Rally in Washington, DC, where he’ll talk about his vision for bringing America together and bringing about the kind of change we can believe in.

Stand for Change Rally with Barack Obama

American University
Bender Arena
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Monday, January 28
Doors open: 10:30 a.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required but an RSVP is strongly encouraged, so sign up now:


For security reasons, bags are not allowed inside the event. Please limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.


January 22, 2008



In last night’s debate, Barack Obama said this:

When you look at Bush and Cheney and their record, the one good thing they’ve done for us is they have given their party a very bad name.

No doubt we’ll now be hearing from the Obama haters about how Obama praised the good that Bush and Cheney have done.

January 18, 2008

Shelby Steele on Obama


This has come up in a few DL conversations, so I wanted to pass along the link.

From last Friday’s Bill Moyers Journal, Shelby Steele gives some historical background on the race politics involved in the Obama campaign. He used two terms I hadn’t heard before in this context: bargainers and challengers. Here’s how he defines those terms: (transcript)

SHELBY STEELE: Well, the black American identity, certainly black American politics are grounded in what I call challenging. It’s basically, they look at white America and say we’re going to presume that you’re a racist until you prove otherwise. The whole concept is you keep whites on the hook. You keep the leverage. You keep the pressure. Here’s a guy who’s what I call a bargainer who’s giving whites the benefit of the doubt.

BILL MOYERS: Give me a simple definition of what you call a bargainer. And a simple definition of what you call a challenger.

SHELBY STEELE: A bargainer is a black who enters the American, the white American mainstream by saying to whites in effect, in some code form, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m not going to rub the shame of American history in your face if you will not hold my race against me. Whites then respond with enormous gratitude. And bargainers are usually extremely popular people. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier back in the Sixties and so forth. Because they give whites this benefit of the doubt. That you can be with these people and not feel that you’re going to be charged with racism at any instant. And so they tend to be very successful, very popular.

Challengers on the other hand say, I presume that you, this institution, this society, is racist until it proves otherwise by giving me some concrete form of racial preference.

BILL MOYERS: Affirmative action.

SHELBY STEELE: Affirmative action. Diversity programs. Opportunities of one kind or another. And so, there is a much more concrete bargaining on the case of challengers. And you go into any American institution today and they’re all used to dealing with challengers. They all have a whole system of things that they can give to challengers, who then will offer absolution.

February 11, 2007

Has Cheney’s Job Been Outsourced to Australia?


Via TPM, I see that we’ve found someone on the other side of the world willing to do Dick Cheney’s job, or at least the part of it that involves smearing Democrats as friends of terrorists. Australian prime minister John Howard is attacking Barack Obama and the Democratic Party:

The man who wants to be the first black US president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.

“I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.

“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

Looking into it, however, I see that because of the weakness of the US dollar, the Australian prime minister’s salary is actually a bit higher than the US vice president’s (around $240,000 versus $200,000). Plus we still seem to be paying Cheney. So whoever’s handling this outsourcing doesn’t seem to be doing it very well. No doubt Halliburton is involved.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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