Saturday, May 10, 2008

Washington State's Super-Delegate Status

Representative Rick Larson (D-WA) announced Thursday he would cast his super-vote for Senator Obama. He said that early in the primary race he was leaning toward endorsing Clinton, and had also thought about endorsing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Still left uncommitted among Washington’s superdelegates are state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz and Vice Chairwoman Eileen Macoll; Democratic National Committee members Ed Cote, Sharon Mast and David McDonald; and Congressman Jim McDermott.

McDermott, our representative, is the last neutral superdelegate among the state’s elected Democrats. As recently as April 23, Larsen was saying he had no plans to choose sides before all states had a chance to vote in primaries or caucuses. He said then:

I haven't changed my view at all that we should let the states play themselves out.

Larsen said today that he, as well as other superdelegates, were impressed by Obama’s performance in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. It was, he said using a Clinton phrase, a “game-changer” and it “put a lot of uncommitted delegates into head-scratching mode” about what to do.

He met with Obama today in D.C. about an hour before his 2 p.m. conference all began. Larsen, a vocal critic of the superdelegate system, had already decided to endorse Obama, but he wanted to talk to the candidate about the state of the race and to raise a few Washington state issues, including the Boeing tanker deal.

There are a total of 796 superdelegates, including 17 in Washington. The 6 superdelegates backing Clinton here are U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressmen Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee, former House Speaker Tom Foley, and King County Executive Ron Sims. Given that most of the above represent Western Washington, which caucused 75-25 for Obama, these reps can expect to be remembered with proportional malice at their next tries for re-election. Of these, Cantwell and Inslee seem most vulnerable.

With Larsen, the 5 superdelegates backing Obama include Congressmen Adam Smith and Brian Baird, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and DNC member Pat Notter. Gregoire faces another stiff test from Republican "family values" challenger Dino Rossi (who may have actually won the last election), so she made the right choice. The bottle stands by you, Jim McDermott.

(Much of the above adapted from David Postman's Seattle Times blog, Postman on Politics.)

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