Some superdelegates vow to back Clinton even if Sanders wins NY primary

Daily News Article   —   Posted on March 31, 2016

(by Adam Edelman, NY Daily News) – At least a half-dozen Democratic superdelegates in New York State who have already decided to support Hillary Clinton said Tuesday they would maintain their allegiance to her – regardless of the results of New York’s primary.

Even if opponent Bernie Sanders were to win the April 19 New York presidential primary, when a whopping 247 delegates are at stake, every single New York superdelegate reached by the Daily News said they would never back the Vermont senator.

“Absolutely not,” Elizabeth Stanley, the chief of staff for Westchester County Rep. Nita Lowey, told the Daily News when asked if she could see “any potential situation at all” resulting in her boss switching her support from Clinton to Sanders.

“Hillary Clinton is Congresswoman Lowey’s friend, colleague and her constituent, and she is behind her 100%,” Stanley added.

“I would not under any circumstances switch my allegiance from Secretary Clinton to Senator Sanders,” Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks said.

The other four New York superdelegates (of the 8 the Daily News talked to) – who can pledge and withdraw their allegiance to a nominee based on their personal preference – also would never pull their support from Clinton, their spokespeople said. They all spoke anonymously for fear of insulting either campaign.

The offices for another six known New York superdelegates [the News was able to reach] wouldn’t comment or didn’t respond to a request for comment. There are 44 superdelegates among New York’s 291 delegates.

Cartoon by Bob Lang

Cartoon by Bob Lang

The iron-willed insistence of so many politicians and sitting lawmakers already in the Hillary camp to not budge from their support of the Democratic front-runner speaks volumes to the difficulty faced by the Sanders campaign – or any political outsider – in securing the nomination.

But that challenge – one that is met by candidates every four years – isn’t merely a product of Clinton having earned so many supporters. It’s also due to the complicated setup of a nominating process that gives weight to the desire of party bosses who don’t have to take into account the expressed desire of Democratic voters.

The majority of Democratic delegates in New York, and across the U.S., are “pledged.” Typically they are elected state and local officials. They are awarded proportionally, and bound to the candidate who wins their state’s primary.

Across the U.S., there are 712 [Democratic] superdelegates – unelected delegates free to support any candidate for the Democratic nomination at the party’s convention.

The superdelegates who are elected officials are, for example, members of the House and Senate, Democratic governors and the Vice President as well members of the Democratic National Committee. Other superdelegates are “distinguished party leaders” like former Presidents, senators and House leaders.

Among New York’s superdelegates this year are Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, and most of the state’s House members.

Superdelegates are not involved in the Republican Party nomination process.

To secure the Democratic nomination, either Clinton or Sanders must attain 2,383 total delegates before the party’s national convention in Philadelphia this July.

In spite of Sanders winning 15 states – including some by an 80%-20% margin – over 94% of the 498 superdelegates who have decided thus far have said they are backing Clinton. (Clinton has 469 superdelegate votes, compared to just 29 for Sanders.)

.[Ballotpedia reports: Currently, 4,765 Democratic delegates are expected to be at the Democratic National Convention. In order to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, a candidate must win half – 2,383 delegates – at the national convention].

Currently, Clinton has 1,712, total delegates, compared with 1,004 for Sanders. Excluding superdelegates, however, Clinton’s lead is only 1,243 to 975 – a narrower difference that has prompted the Sanders campaign to say it will try to convince many superdelegates to jump ship and support him.

Despite the uphill battle, Sanders campaign officials said they remain optimistic. “Yes, Hillary Clinton has a substantial lead but there are still hundreds who have yet to make a public declaration of support,” Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine told The News. “We recognize that a lot of them have already made up their mind . . . and we respect that. We just think that if we can do well on the merits, we can get people to do what we feel is the right thing,” Devine added.

A Clinton representative said the campaign has “always said we would work to earn more pledged delegates.” [In other words, they will try to convince more people to vote for her. Pledged delegates must vote for the candidate the people of the state voted for.]

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the New York Daily News. 


A "superdelegate" is:

Superdelegates are current or former Democratic elected officeholders and party officials. They are free to support any candidate for the nomination.  At the 2016 Democratic National Convention the superdelegates will make up approximately 15% of the total number of delegates.

  • A "superdelegate" is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for whom they want to vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates include distinguished party leaders, and elected officials, including the current and former presidents, all Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors.
  • Other Democratic superdelegates are chosen during the primary season. Democratic superdelegates are free to support any candidate for the nomination. This contrasts with convention "pledged" delegates that are selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state, in which voters choose among candidates for the party's presidential nomination.
  • Because they are free to support anyone they want, Democratic superdelegates could potentially swing the results to nominate a presidential candidate who did not receive the majority of votes during the primaries.
  • At least in name, superdelegates are not involved in the Republican Party nomination process. There are delegates to the Republican National Convention who are seated automatically, but they are limited to three per state, consisting of the state chairperson and two district-level committee members. Republican Party superdelegates cannot vote for any candidate they choose - they must vote for their state's popular vote winner.
    (Note: On 3/30/16, this explanation replaced the original explanation of superdelegate. From Wikipedia)

Superdelegate Timeline: (from a 2008 article on superdelegates)

1960s: No uniform primary system exists. Democratic Party heavyweights like Chicago Mayor Richard Daley work backroom deals and wield inordinate power in influencing the nomination process.

Early 1970s: The Democratic Party reforms rules to open up the nominating process and create a uniform primary and caucus system that gives more influence to a wider spectrum of voters, including grassroots activists and minorities.

1972: Sen. George McGovern wins the Democratic nomination, but loses the general election in a disastrous landslide: McGovern wins only one state and the District of Columbia.

1982: The Democratic Party reforms rules again, creating superdelegates to give elected party officials more influence in the nomination process. Officials hope the move will help them retain a measure of control in selecting a nominee in sync with the party and viable in general elections.

1984: In a tighter-than-expected race with Democratic opponent Gary Hart, presidential candidate Walter Mondale woos enough superdelegates on June 6 to clinch the nomination early.

2008: In another tighter-than-expected race, opponents Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have waged intense campaigns to secure superdelegates early in an unpredictable contest.

Read an MSNBC article that explains why the superdelegate system was implemented in the Democratic party.

NOTE: The Republicans do not have a similar super-delegate system.