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Superdelegates Are People, Too, Says Dean

By Kari Lydersen
CHICAGO -- While the Democratic presidential primary process has attracted most of the attention in recent months, the day-to-day business of Democratic politics grinds on. For Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, that means fund-raising for the general election race, regular outreach to core constituency groups, and -- these days -- defending the superdelegate system.

And so it was that a roomful of Democratic party politicos and leaders of Chicago's gay and lesbian business community congregated in a restaurant owned by city councilman Tom Tunney in the city's vibrant "Boystown" neighborhood last night. Though the event was not officially described as outreach to the gay and lesbian community, Dean's and DNC treasurer Andy Tobias's remarks focused almost exclusively on what Democrats have done for this demographic in various states, on such issues as same-sex marriage, adoption rights, domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination legislation and efforts to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"I like to remind straight audiences that the first man who took a bullet for George W. Bush in Iraq was (Staff Sgt.) Eric Alva, a gay man," said Dean, also criticizing the military's expulsion of gay Arabic-language translators.

He cheered Democrats for higher primary voter turnout in even traditionally Republican states. "In all states we are consistently out-turning-out them," he said. "Though maybe not out-outing them."

Dean pointed to city councilwoman Sandra Jackson in the crowd gathered below murals of Swedish maids and clusters of lingonberries to defend the concept of superdelegates, seemingly a sore point. "Let's not get too cranked up about superdelegates, they are just like you and just like me and just like Sandi," he said, adding that one of Wisconsin's superdelegates is a 21-year-old gay college student.

The hosts declined to take a position or comment on either Barack Obama's or Hillary Clinton's campaigns, saying their focus was promoting Democratic values and making sure a Democrat wins the White House, avoiding what they call "a third term for George W. Bush" in the form of John McCain.

"We have two superb candidates, an embarrassment of riches in every way except cash," said Tobias. He made clear that along with thanking these likely Democratic voters, the $85-per-person "grass roots" gathering was meant to fund the courting of less-sure voters.

"We'd love to send Governor Dean back to Washington with a pocketful of gay Chicago money," said Evanston resident Julie Matthei.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 14, 2008; 5:50 PM ET
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I wrote an article called Superdelegates Are People Too on my blog 2008 Democratic Convention Watch. It's about Oregon Superdelegate Jenny Greenleaf.

Maybe Howard Dean reads our site ;)

You can read it here

Posted by: oreodem | February 15, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"does anyone on this thread think their will be rioting if Hillary "steals" the election?"

I already have a plane ticket to Denver.

Posted by: malmberg | February 14, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I love it! Dean hurling himself back to D.C. with pockets' full of gay cash. How flagrante!! What a great image. And, actually, it is about time some real enthusiasm and verve entered the political arena. After 8 years of grimacing mass murderers and mafia-style power plays, it is nice to have a fun, yet very serious, image in my mind as I watch this grand spectacle. I even feel like I am participating...

I doubt if the republican-owned voting machines can mess things up this time! Obama has just enough distance from the well-heeled white male establishment that he might really change things. ?

Posted by: blackecho47 | February 14, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

This irony is too great! The Dems tried to manufacture outrage over "not counting votes" in 2000 and 2004 (which never worked) - and now they will have Sharpton leading the charge to NOT count the votes of FL and MI voters, while a cabal of Democratic party leaders gets to trump the whole caucus process.

Posted by: pgr88 | February 14, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

MORE POWER to the super-delegates -- DOUBLE their votes!!!

Posted by: JakeD | February 14, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

If the superdelegates were being left alone to make up their own minds, or at least only lobbied by other superdelegates, I'd be more understanding of the system.

But when I read about Chelsea Clinton phoning a college student to try to sway his vote, am I alone in thinking that sounds like old-style "it isn't what you know, but who you know" politics? Dazzle and impress, ignore the boring bits of actual policy? Chelsea's a management consultant, not a politician, and her parents won't even let her talk to the media. And yet she's suddenly informed enough to lobby superdelegates? It just seems sleazy to me.

Posted by: TomJx | February 14, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Hillary can certainly fight on, but she cannot win. Obama's delegate lead is about to increase--Wisconsin and Hawaii. Re. the superdelegates: Many of these people are from states Obama is winning handily; very few if any will actually walk the political plank for Hillary. Once the Clinton ego realizes they have lost, we can focus on the R's.--Who by the way are unifying right now.

Posted by: gmundenat | February 14, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I say MORE POWER to the super-delegates -- DOUBLE their votes -- does anyone on this thread think their will be rioting if Hillary "steals" the election?

Posted by: JakeD | February 14, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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