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Friday, February 15, 2008

Superdelegate Super Drama!: John Lewis Switches,Might BE Switching to Obama- Al Sharpton Threatens to March on DNC Headquarters

Remember last week when I posted about the Tyranny of the Super delegate: Disaster Looms for the Democratic Party?

Here's the problem many of these CBC members are from heavily African American districts. The black vote is tilting heavily towards Obama something like 80-90%. This thing might come down to superdelegates and these CBC members supporting Clinton would be placed in the position of being responsible for thwarting the will of 90% of their constituency AND being held responsible for thwarting an African American to get to the White House. Can you say primary challenger in 2010?

People are passionate about this year's campaign. I could easily see a crop of young pro-Obama democrats running against every CBC member that cast their vote for Hillary Clinton with the campaign slogan "Remember 2008!" You can almost guarantee that there are some young turks out there who would be able to make a strong argument that these CBC members are out of touch. Just this past week, Al Wynn to his Democratic primary opponent, Donna Edwards, whose campaign was given a boost by bloggers and online activists. You can bet that every CBC member casting a super delegate vote for Clinton will find themselves similarly targeted in 2010. So whether Obama wins or loses, he's already changed the game. You've got more young people engaged and interested in a political campaign than I can remember in my lifetime. Do all of the super delegates think that these folks are just going to fade away and say "oh well"? No, they are going to be highly ticked off. Ticked off enough to organize and campaign and aided by the internet, they can probably pull it off.

John Lewis Switches His Support to Barack Obama
Last night I read a post over at Politico.com called "Black superdelegates, torn". They were citing sources from within Representative John Lewis' camp who were saying he was rethinking his early support of Hillary Clinton. Well this morning, the NY times is reporting that John Lewis has switched and will be casting his superdelegate vote for Barack Obama.

“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

“I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama,” Mr. Lewis said. “He’s getting better and better every single day.”

His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s support was beginning to erode from some other African-American lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Representative David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he, too, would not go against the will of voters in his district.

I predict the same will happen for several CBC members. Jim Clayburn says folks are being moved to tears:

I've seen a superdelegate driven to tears over this. It's a very emotional thing. People who have been waiting for years to vote for a woman or a black find themselves conflicted having to make a choice between the two at one time. That's very, very tough, especially on African American women." ABCNEWS.com
They really don't have much choice. To cast a superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton when 80-90% of your constituents are not only voting for the other candidate, but emotionally invested in his winning or losing, your asking for a primary challenge, a real one, in 2010. For those who want to lamblast Lewis for supporting Hillary in the first place, in his defense, EVERYBODY was droning on and on about inevitability and whatnot when Hillary was locking in these superdelegate votes. Lewis is a politician, he went where there appeared to be less risk. Now he's re assessed his risk and figured out win or lose, casting a superdelegate vote in favor of Hillary Clinton, despite his constituent's risks is political folly. How are your elected superdelegates going to vote? Have you called to ask them?

Al Sharpton Threatens to March on DNC Headquarters over Michigan and Florida
Man, I said that this thing was headed for disaster last week. One of my friends laughed and said that there would be riots in Denver at the Democratic National Convention...they might be right. Rev. Sharpton says he is going to march on the DNC headquarters in Washington, DC if they seat the Florida and Michigan delegates at the convention. Last week, Julian Bond of the NAACP complained to Howard Dean that not seating the delegates would disenfranchise minority voters. Al Sharpton responded to the contrary kjhgkjh

Yesterday, Clinton's side of the argument got a boost when NAACP chairman Julian Bond wrote to DNC chair Howard Dean to express "great concern at the prospect that million of voters in Michigan and Florida could ultimately have their votes completely discounted." Not seating the Michigan and Florida delegations would remind Americans of the "sordid history of racially discriminatory primaries," Bond said.

This morning, Rev. Al Sharpton sided with Obama, writing to Dean to express the opposite sentiment.

"I firmly believe that changing the rules now, and seating delegates from Florida and Michigan at this point would not only violate the Democratic party's rules of fairness, but also would be a grave injustice," Sharpton wrote. "Changing the rules in the middle of a presidential contest is patently unfair both to the candidates (including Senator Edwards) and to Democratic voters everywhere."

Sharpton said that Bond's argument of disenfranchisement "should have been made many months ago before the decision was made to strip these states of their delegates, and, once the decision was made, it should have been vigorously objected to and contested by those who felt it disenfranchised voters. To raise that claim now smacks of politics in its form most raw and undercuts the moral authority behind such an argument."Political Punch

Now Rev. Al is planning a march...SOMEBODY HAS BEEN READING THIS BLOG!!! For Rev. Al, this is ingenious. IF you recall, I commented on how his window to endorse, or have an endorsement that had any clout had passed. With Julian Bond's letter and this issue over Florida and Michigan, he has found a way to make himself relevant. Before you poo poo and dismiss that statement. Think about this. Neither the DNC nor Barack Obama want the spectacle of thousands of Black folks marching on DNC headquarters so I can imagine folks will be calling him. OF course he will have thousands marching on DNC headquarters with him because he has tapped into the intensity of Black folks enthusiasm over a potential Obama nomination. Al Sharpton can't lose in this case. If he marches, he's the champion of the Black voter. If he doesn't, he is the pragmatic elder statesman who negotiated a compromise. I'm not saying that is why he's doing it, but that is the position he has successfully carved out for himself.

UPDATE: Now Lewis' spokesperson is backtracking:

spokeswoman for Lewis, Brenda Jones, said the Times story and a similar one by
the Associated Press
, saying he was contemplating such a switch,
were inaccurate. Both the Times and AP stories quoted Lewis directly after
speaking with him; he was not available for comment later Thursday. The Obama
campaign also said that Lewis and Obama had not talked recently about a change
of heart.