Monday, March 24, 2008

Should superdelegates vote based on how their constituents vote?

Interesting potential change in the winds concerning how superdelegate Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) will vote come the convention. According to a blog post over at Daily Kos, Woolsey had originally been planning to vote for Clinton. After her district went for Obama, though, and no doubt due to various other factors, it appears as though Woolsey will now be voting Obama.

I've brought up the subject of how and why superdelegates vote, voicing my displeasure with Tammy Baldwin's intention to support Clinton even though her/my district went overwhelmingly for Obama. That is and remains my personal opinion and not official policy (nor do I particularly think it should be). It is, however, refreshing to hear about a representative who is apparently open to changing her mind, either because of what the constituency wants or due to other new developments.

Other than a few people calling her office(s) and getting "she will be voting with her district" responses, there is no official word from Woolsey (yet) on this. Something to keep an eye on, though.

(h/t to Jesse)


jen x said...

I was surprised to see Bill Richardson -- who seemed to be actively courting a VP spot on Sen. Clinton's ticket -- shift gears and endorse Obama. I was wondering if others will follow his lead, even if it does make James Carville's head explode. Any word from our Congressperson? I've been meaning to email about this but, well, I haven't.

John A said...

I'll disagree with you on this one. I think superdelegates have an obligation to vote for whomever THEY think will make a better leader. As I see it, the party has elected to use superdelegates specifically to have a group who can vote with independent judgment, untied to the electorate.

I don't trust either the electorate or the set of super-delegates on their own. Together, they give a nice set of checks and balances to the nomination.

I can see the argument for the moral imperative to put aside one's own opinions/beliefs/etc. to stick with your district. I just don't subscribe to it.

Also, given the way superdelegates are "selected", having them vote solely with their districts gives a lot more power to districts with elected democratic officials. Having superdelegates vote with their districts disenfranchises the democratic electorate in, say, Wyoming, while increasing the power of the electorate in New Jersey.

Emily said...

I hear you, John, and I've been conflicted about this whole issue ever since it came up.

You're right in that having both voters and superdelegates as a sort of checks and balances is a good thing, and the original intent of the system. I'm just not sure it's holding up well in the current situation, nor that it will ultimately prove fair. I'm far from being a sharp legal or political mind, though, so I could be wrong. It's still incredibly interesting to watch play out.

I suspect that this primary cycle will bring about a great deal of change in how the Dems go about nominating a candidate, either way.

JEN - If you do hear anything from Tammy, please let me know. :)

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, We may get a chance to democratically reflect on this issue during the fall. If Tammy does not switch support she may earn a primary challenge. A more moderate democrat would have a good shot at winning especially if the students refuse to support her because of her clinton support.

John A said...

Had to throw this out there. This is a shitty approach... Clinton is basically trying to insinuate that pledged delegates for Obama should vote for her anyway. Icky.

I agree that this is super-interesting to watch play out... I question whether any change (to the process) will come about. Not much change came out of the 2000 election process.

(Sorry, my political cynicism is running a little deep today.)

Dave said...

This should be revisited.

Senator Woolsey hasn't changed her vote and is still counted in the Clinton column. (I'd imagine her chances at a cabinet post are not-so-good, maybe she should focus on re-election?)

If the superdelegates' power comes from the position that they know better than the rest of us (unlikely) then I don't see why they don't use that power to end a lost, and now divisive, primary.

The Lost Albatross