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Hoyer's (Sort-of) Superdelegate Solution

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued to walk a fine line on the role superdelegates should play in deciding the Democratic presidential race, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) unveiled his own idea today for how the contest might be resolved.

Hoyer's suggested way out of the current mess sounds akin to making the decision in a smoke-filled room (though presumably without the smoke, which is banned in most parts of the Capitol).

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said last week that superdelegates should commit to either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama by July 1 in order to settle the nomination well in advance of the party convention in August. And Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) has suggested holding something like a superdelegate caucus or primary in June.

Asked about those proposals today at his weekly roundtable with reporters, Hoyer said he would also like to see the nomination settled soon, but responded with a slightly different idea.

"In my early days, my younger days, I was a political leader in Prince George's County," Hoyer said. "We had what was called a 'breakfast club' -- people sat around a table just like this. We rarely ever voted. We did have, however, significant discussions in which we ultimately came to consensus. That didn't mean everybody was in unanimity but it did mean everybody agreed, 'well, that seems to be the rational conclusion to reach.' So you don't necessarily have to vote to reach such a conclusion."

After a brief pause, Hoyer said, "I hope I wasn't too elliptical on that."

Okay, then. Hoyer also told reporters he prefers to call superdelegates "ex officio" delegates. "This 'super' business I think, you know, we're no better or worse than delegates elected as delegates," Hoyer said.

And he told a joke he said he'd made at a recent Gridiron Club dinner: "Superdelegates are just like any other delegate. Except of course we can fly, then steal and subvert the will of the American people."

Hoyer repeated his oft-stated view that superdelegates should use their "judgment" and "experience" to decide which candidate to support, pointing out that superdelegates will have the benefit at the end of the primary process of looking back at the entire arc of the campaign before making their decisions, whereas many regular primary voters were forced to cast their ballots months ago. Hoyer suggested that Marylanders who voted in the February primary, for example, might have voted differently had they been asked to do so months earlier, or later.

Pelosi, meanwile, said in a television interview this morning that superdelegates should make up their own minds about which candidate to pick.

"These superdelegates have the right to vote their conscience and who they think would be the better president, or who can win, but they also then should get involved in the campaigns and make their power known there," Pelosi said on "Good Morning America."

That's not much different from what Pelosi said on the subject March 5: "I believe superdelegates have to use their own judgment and there will be many equities that they have to weigh when they make the decision: their own belief and who they think will be the best President, who they think can win, how their own region voted, and their own responsibility."

But Pelosi has taken fire from some Clinton supporters for her past contention that superdelegates should not go against the popular vote and pledged delegate count. "It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided," Pelosi said in February.

Those comments have been interpreted as a hint that Clinton shouldn't try to win the race with the votes of superdelegates if, as seems assured, she finishes the primary season trailing Obama in pledged delegates.

As chairwoman of the Democratic convention and the highest-ranking elected woman in U.S. history, Pelosi is in a tough spot. She has to do what she thinks is best for the party, particularly in helping Democrats win in November. But she must do it without appearing biased against the still-popular Clinton. Pelosi will certainly breathe a sigh of relief when this fight is settled.

As for Hoyer, he'll just be happy not to have to hear the word "superdelegate" anymore.

By Ben Pershing  |  April 1, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Dem. Leaders  
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I have a question for the egalitarian left:
Who made the super delegates the super delegates? The "people?"

Maybe this is why Hoyer is so uncomfortable with the term superdelegate.

It sure sounds, well, so right wing, doesn't it? I mean, this whole idea of two states having their right to vote pulled. Surely that was a Karl Rove plot, wasn't it?

Having a white lunatic as the heard of a national political committee, rather than a qualified minority - surely those are the tactics of the ultra conservative neocons - right?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 1, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The superdelegates should be able to vote for anyone they want, and I like the idea of a caucus/primary. They should be like a state.

Btw, here's an interesting take on the Clinton Library files:

Posted by: Jorge | April 1, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"The United States, which has raised concerns about election fraud, called on Zimbabwe's government to make sure "the counting of the votes ... ensures the will of the people is heard," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Monday." (CNN World news)

So, the Union is eager to establish justice in Zimbabwe! That´s good. Democrats, how about Florida and Michigan? There is no difference of principle. Obama recently objected that the will of the people in the two states is heard.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 1, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

The very notion of an appointed "super-delgate" that can vote in opposition to the majority of the electorate is UN-democratic.

Super-delegates need to vote either the popular, or the electoral vote leader in the district in which they live.

Then, after this election, they need to be outlawed.

It is disgusting to me that elected politicians get a over-wheight from which they can thwart the will of the voters. Because if they do so it will be based upon favors, inapropriate loyalty to a particular politician over loyalty to the Nation's electorate (exception: Gov. Bill Richardson), kickbacks, promises of ambassadorships, etc...


No candidate should be able to outweigh the electorate's decision and swing the race with super delgates alone.

Posted by: JBE | April 1, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Attention black America there is a war going on in the media against our views and opinion's.This is evident when you see how FOX NEWS,CNN and MSNBC have covered Rev. Wrights comments. It is a fact that a lot of black people agree with Rev. Wright and when the media call him wrong or crazy they are disrespecting our views, it is a same how the black opinion is disrespected by the white media. Rev Wright comments have not been disproved and to shun them without investigating its truth, is stupid and unreasonable. The media in this country is against blacks. Everyday on t.v the media disrespects us.


Some in the democratic party has also disrespects black Americans. People like the Clinton's have bamboozled us for years well in the words of BARACK OBAMA not this time!! Its time all truth fighters come together and join the black out vote movement tell the Democratic party that if they rob OBAMA after he has won more states and votes then we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. For more information listen to WARREN BALLENTINE Mon to Fri on WERE the people station 1490 from 10AM to 1PM.ET

Posted by: jamil12344321 | April 1, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

OF COURSE the superDels can vote how they want, so did all of us. Smoke filled room? No need. A private ballot booth like a typical primary will do.
I'm tired of people saying that if their candidate doesn't get the nomination then they won't support the other. Who cares ! You probably didn't vote ( and get disappointed) in the last two presidential elections ! Where were you ? Who needs you now? Take your ball and go home!

Posted by: RK | April 1, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

"That's not much different from what Pelosi said on the subject March 5"

Oh, but it is, and the difference is that she said:
"they also then should get involved in the campaigns and make their power known there,"

She is calling for the supers to declare who they support.She didn't say as soon as possible, but that is what she meant according to my interpretation. Why else should she say that now? The media does not seem to have understood the importance of this statement, but I think the superdelegates have.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2008 6:22 AM | Report abuse

jamil12344321, I am not black, I am as white as it gets and I agree fully with Reverend Wright's comments (apart from the HIV issue). And I'm convinced many other whites agree with me. I don't think you should frame it as a White vs. Black issue.

But you are right that the media has not been fair to Reverend Wright. Why are they not showing the full sermons, instead of the soundbites? That's outrageous.

Why is the washington Post not making explicit that Wright's comments where totally taken out of context? Why is there not a debate on whether or not they were actually factual?

Posted by: Fairy Tale | April 2, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Either one of the Democratic candidates who wins the number of delegates needed to be nominated will do so by getting the most "super" or ex-officio delegates, since neither candidate will be able to get the 2024 delegate votes needed to be nominated by only using the caucas delegate awarded votes and the primary delegate awarded votes.

Posted by: CMM | April 2, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Here's a simple compromise that fixes the concern about superdelegates AND the fight over Florida and Michigan at the same time. The Obama camp should agree to seat the FL and MI delegates as elected. In exchange, the Clinton camp should agree to change the rules to eliminate ALL the superdelegates. The nominee would be chosen only by delegates who've actually been elected. What Clinton gains from seating FL and MI would roughly be canceled out by losing heredge in superdelegates. The total required for the nomination would be reduced accordingly, and after the last primaries in all likelihood Obama would have enough pledged, elected delegates to clinch the nomination without nasty fights at the convention.

Posted by: DF | April 2, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

on St. Patrick's Day Hillary claimed she flew into Tuzla under sniper fire and now on April Fools Day she claims to be Rocky. Is this woman in touch with reality? What are we going to get on May 5,Cinco de Mayo, that she is Benito Juarez?

Posted by: majorteddy | April 2, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: votenic | April 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

First, to some extent the super delegates are elected. Every democratic senator and congress person, governor, on down to county commissioners etc.... so its not like the superdelegates are some back room boss hog wheeler dealer types.

Second, the sole purpose of there being superdelegates is to change the nominee of the party from the leader in the pledged delegate count to someone that didn't win but came close, and is more electable.

So in the end the superdelegates should do their job.i.e. decide who they think the better general election candidate is, and vote accordingly.

Posted by: DCDave | April 2, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The reasons why Obama is winning superdelegates votes is that they understand that he is a better candidate than Clinton for the nomination and than McCain for the presidency...

With McCain, we have someone who lives for wars and who is missing the heros of WW-II (see the reference to Churchill in one of McCain's publicity). We also have someone who didn't object to the idea of starting a war under false pretenses.

With Hillary Clinton, we have someone who is associated to too many scandals with her husband before, during and after the White House:

- Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates
- Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
- Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
- Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
- First first lady to come under criminal investigation
- Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
- First president to establish a legal defense fund.
- First president to be held in contempt of court
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
- First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court

Before Bill left office, he gave favors in exchange of money... For example, shortly after beeing pardonned by President Clinton, fugitive financier Marc Rich had his ex-wife giving $400 000 to the Clintons library foundation: Source:,8599,98756,00.html

The Clinton foundation received recently a $31.3 million donation after Bill expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's, undercuting both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan's poor human rights: Source:

The reasons why Obama is winning against Clinton and why he will win against McCain are that voters are sick of people starting wars for false pretenses and they are sick of corrupted politicians (I include the Clintons and some of their pundits who have been allies in their past scandals).

Posted by: Logan6 | April 2, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

When are you numbnuts going to realize that this is just the dmocratic party picling a nominee. Its not the election. The democratic party can pick a nominee anyway the members of the party want to. If you are not a member, it's none of your business. How 'democratic' is it for Ralph Nader to be a candidate for president with out receiving a single vote? The primaries don't have to be democratic, because the real election is in November.

Posted by: Ron Cantrell | April 2, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Logan6, Your comments are well thoughtout and are true, however, I think having friends as terrorist, (Rezko and Auchi) and the perception of being anti American, is far worse than the Clintons and all their baggage. Obama will not win in the general election. The 527 groups and republicans will eat him alive. Hillary is the best of the two evils.

Posted by: butterfly2 | April 3, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Howard Dean should be leading the charge against McCain while the Democrats are deciding on their nominee for President.
All this nonsens about quitting the race, leads others to believe in PA etc.. that their votes won't count-who could blame them.
That would mean that FL and MI had justification for their actions.
However,I also think there needs to be scrutiny of the Democratic leadership in FL and MI. After all, they lead their constituencies into this mess. They are the ones who should be hiding in shame and quitting.
Much like the election official in FL who approved the butterfly ballot.
The Demo Party needs to get on the stick. We have two of the best running for the nomination, they should be allowed to run the course.

Posted by: CarmanK | April 3, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a Hoyer constituent, but his round table is too small to fit all interested parties in a "private discussion".
Actually, the convention is the round table for discussion on the nomination and the party platform.
Perhaps now is the time to start a blog and gather people's opinions on what the platform should contain.
Bush has been a tragedy, a disaster, the worst president in years. John McCain is still stuck in the Vietnam era. The War on Terrorism is a new kind of war-one which Bush botched and the American Military have had difficulty understanding, one in which John McCain has no more experience than Hillary and Osama.
Who's going to capture Osama bin Laden?
Why is still on the loose?

Posted by: CarmanK | April 3, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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