Democratic party superdelegates don’t come equipped with capes, tights or preternatural abilities. The only superpower these top elected leaders and party officials possess is their role as automatic delegates to the National Convention, unbound to results of the state’s nominating system.
This really irks supporters of Bernie Sanders, who dominated last Saturday’s Washington caucuses. They’re demanding the state’s 17 superdelegates line up behind the Vermont socialist.
Two superdelegates met with the News Tribune editorial board Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Sen. Maria Cantwell both said they’re sticking with Hillary Clinton. Both also allowed that their party’s old-school nominating process is flawed; they said they’d welcome a serious dialogue about how to reform it.
“If I were drawing up the rules, I would have every state have a primary and pick a nominee (without superdelegates),” said Kilmer, of Gig Harbor.
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Kilmer said he favors Clinton because of her national-security expertise. Cantwell said she supports Clinton because Clinton supports the federal export-import bank, a top-shelf issue for Cantwell.
But let’s set aside subjective preferences and look at objective math. For superdelegates to pledge their troth to Sanders would be a rash act when the national delegate arithmetic skews prohibitively in favor of Clinton.
Sanders backers made an impressive showing Saturday. It conjured memories of how televangelist Pat Robertson won Washington’s 1988 Republican caucus, a coup by an organized minority of conservatives.
State Democrats would do well to follow the path the GOP gradually plowed after the Robertson uprising. The preferable (and more representative) route to an electable nominee is to allocate delegates through a presidential primary election. Better yet, a primary held in early March, not late May.