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Some superdelegates more super than rest

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080404/ap_on_el_pr/super_sized_delegates;_ylt=Am7iFaZEfwFUtn9q2IBKE56s0NUE Some superdelegates more super than rest By STEPHEN
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2008

      Some superdelegates more super than rest
      By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer
      2 hours, 12 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - Some of those presidential superdelegates
      Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are
      pursuing are more super than others.

      One delegate, one vote doesn't apply to them. These
      prominent Democrats can name additional
      superdelegates, giving them control over multiple
      convention votes, and that could be the difference in
      a race that may not be decided until the August

      The clout of the nearly 800 superdelegates is
      unprecedented in this year's race because neither
      Obama nor Clinton can clinch the nomination with only
      the delegates won in state primaries and caucuses.
      Largely overlooked in the arcane process, though, is
      the power of a select few to complete the
      superdelegate ranks by naming 76 newbies, and Clinton
      and Obama are fighting hard over every one of those
      from state conventions to back rooms.

      Separated by fewer than 140 delegates, both candidates
      are lobbying the hundreds of known superdelegates,
      employing family, friends and influential surrogates
      to woo the governors, lawmakers and other party
      leaders. Some are more important than others.

      Consider Art Torres, chairman of the California
      Democratic Party. He remains uncommitted, yet he could
      be the most powerful superdelegate of all. Torres gets
      to name five additional superdelegates, giving him
      control over six votes at the national convention this

      "I am the super of supers!" Torres proclaims with a

      He and other state party chairmen will appoint most of
      the additional 76, known in Democratic ranks as
      "unpledged add-ons."

      "They basically are gifts to the state party chairs,"
      Harold Ickes, a chief strategist for Clinton, said of
      the additional superdelegates.

      The additional delegates represent a lot of votes in a
      race this tight, and neither Obama nor Clinton has
      really capitalized so far. Only 20 of the party's 56
      state and territory chairmen have endorsed a
      candidate, according to surveys of superdelegates by
      The Associated Press. Obama has 12 endorsements,
      Clinton eight.

      The candidates also have split endorsements from
      Democratic governors, who often control state party
      matters. Both have 10 gubernatorial endorsements.

      Superdelegates can vote for whomever they choose at
      the party's convention this August in Denver,
      regardless of the results in primaries and caucuses.
      In all, there will be nearly 800 superdelegates,
      including the 76 extras.

      Clinton has been leading in superdelegate endorsements
      since before the first primary, but Obama has gained
      ground in the past month and a half. The latest AP
      tally: Clinton, 250; Obama, 220. Obama has won more
      pledged delegates in primaries and caucuses, giving
      him the overall delegate lead, 1,634 to 1,500. Needed
      to win the nomination: 2,024.

      The 76 "add-ons" are doled out to each state based on
      population and Democratic voting strength. Every state
      but Florida and Michigan, which were penalized for
      holding early primaries, gets at least one.
      California's five are the most.

      The extra delegates will be selected at state party
      conventions and committee meetings throughout the
      spring. In about half the states, including
      California, Georgia and Ohio, they must be chosen from
      lists compiled by the state party chairmen. If the
      chairmen list only one person for each slot, they
      effectively name the extra delegates.

      In other states the additional delegates can be
      nominated from the floor of the convention or by
      simply applying, turning mundane state party
      gatherings into spirited debates about the
      presidential candidates.

      Alabama's extra delegate was decided by six votes on
      March 1, when Obama backer and labor leader Stewart
      Burkhalter was selected at a meeting of the state
      party's executive committee. Burkhalter said he worked
      with the Obama campaign to get the nod.

      "If we'd already had a nominee I wouldn't have been an
      unpledged add-on, I guess," Burkhalter said.

      In past years, states used their extra delegates to
      reward elected officials, donors or labor leaders, or
      to achieve racial balance in their delegations. This
      year, the battle for the extra delegates is one of
      many fronts in a historic fight for the Democratic

      Aides to both campaigns say they are wading into local
      politics to try to make sure the new delegates are
      amenable to their candidate.

      Some state party chairmen will consult governors or
      senators when making their choice; others will simply
      pick like-minded delegates.

      That's what Wyoming Democratic Chairman John Millin
      plans to do when he selects the state's extra delegate
      in May. Millin, who has endorsed Obama, said he plans
      to choose another Obama supporter for the spot, though
      he hopes their votes are not decisive.

      "The two votes that I get are frankly two more votes
      than I really want at the national convention," Millin
      said. "The party as a whole needs to wrap this up soon
      after the primaries. I would like to see the decision
      made long before we get to Denver."

      In California, Torres has come up with a diplomatic
      way to select his five delegates. He said he plans to
      award them in proportion to the vote in California's
      Democratic primary. Clinton received about 52 percent
      of the vote, so she gets three; Obama got 43 percent
      of the vote, so he gets two.

      Torres said he will also use the slots to help meet
      the state's affirmative action goals.

      "I want to take a delegation to the convention that
      reflects the diversity of California," Torres said.

      Both campaigns lobbied Oklahoma Democratic Chairman
      Ivan Holmes before he picked the state's extra
      delegate in February. It didn't work.

      Holmes, who hasn't endorsed Clinton or Obama, said he
      selected another undecided superdelegate, the state
      party's chief fundraiser, Reggie Whitten.

      "I had all kinds of people wanting to do this, and
      Reggie never asked me," Holmes said.

      Holmes said he originally backed former Sen. John
      Edwards, believing he would do well in Oklahoma,
      perhaps providing coattails for local candidates. He
      said he has yet to see that trait in Obama or Clinton.

      "Obama brings young people into the party that we
      haven't had before, and Hillary brings in a lot of
      independent women," Holmes said. "Unfortunately, the
      polls show that neither of them are going to win Oklahoma."
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