A Superdelegate Sticks with Clinton in an Obama State
Virginia Democrats overwhelmingly prefer Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for president, as his 28-point victory this week over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) showed.
But one state lawmaker from Richmond who will have a vote at the Democratic National Convention in the influential group of party leaders known as superdelegates said today she's unlikely to abandon her support of Clinton.
Del. Jennifer L. McClellan said in an interview she is hoping that either Obama or Clinton have a clear advantage among regular, or pledged, delegates so the unpledged superdelegates won't have to decide the nominee. But if her vote matters, McClellan said she will likely stick with Clinton.
"I still think she is the best candidate and I believe in her. I believe she will be the best candidate. I can't ignore that," said McClellan, who sits on the Democratic National Committee and who endorsed Clinton last year. "I made a commitment. Nothing has happened to change my mind....I struggled long and hard over who to endorse, and I take my commitments very seriously and it won't just change based on one vote."
McClellan said she owes her start in politics to Clinton, who invited her to sit with her at a presidential debate in 1992 at the University of Richmond. "That opened the door to Virginia politics and led me to the path where I am today."
McClellan, an African American often mentioned as a future statewide candidate, could be taking a political risk if her vote and the votes of other superdelegates give Clinton the nomination. Obama won 79 percent of the vote in the city of Richmond. Black leaders also say Virginia's African Americans, nine out of every 10 of whom voted for Obama, are very enthusiastic about the prospect of having the first black president.
If she were to run for statewide office, McClellan may have to explain her support for Clinton to a Democratic primary electorate that overwhelmingly rejected the former first lady on Tuesday. In addition, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is one of Obama's biggest backers.
But McClellan said her future political options will not factor in her decision at the Democratic convention in Denver.
"I am doing this based on who I think is the best candidate to be president. I am not doing this for any personal gain. I am going to follow what my head and my heart tells me is the right thing to do," McClellan said. "I don't care if I am considered as a statewide candidate. I have to do what I think is right. If that means I ultimately vote for Senator Clinton. I am at peace with that. If I vote for Senator Obama. I am at peace with that.."
February 14, 2008; 12:27 PM ET
Categories: Tim Craig
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