Does Harold Ickes complicate Hillary Clinton’s appeals to Puerto Rican superdelegates?
Francisco Domenech, a superdelegate supporting Hillary Clinton in Puerto Rico, thinks that Ickes, her point-man on the wrangling of superdelegates, may find himself having to explain his work on behalf of one side of the flammable issue of Puerto Rico’s national status.
Domenech, who supports statehood for Puerto Rico, pointed out that the three remaining undecided superdelegates in Puerto Rico are all proponents of maintaining commonwealth status. Ickes, who became a lobbyist after working at President Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, was an adviser to former Governor Pedro Rossello in the battle for statehood.
“If they know of Ickes’ background—they are going to question him on that,” said Domenech, a Democratic National Committeeman. “And he is going to have to answer—tell them whether he is going to be advocating X or Y resolution to a problem. But the counterproposal—if they go back and let’s say for argument’s sake they are for commonwealth, what does that do for the statehood superdelegates? They have a tightrope to walk, because they can’t upset our side.”
The conventional wisdom is that Clinton will win the late-scheduled primary in Puerto Rico because she has done better than Barack Obama among Latino voters so far. (On a conference call Saturday morning, Ickes suggested that the campaign was counting on Puerto Rico to put Clinton over the top in the delegate count. “On June 7, when Puerto Rico votes,” he said, “she will be neck and neck and shorty after that will wrap up the nomination.”)
Domenech argued that the status issue would be very important to Puerto Rican Democratic primary voters, who he said are about evenly divided between commonwealth and statehood.
“Status is going to be the number-one issue,” said Domenech, adding, “It’s going to get a lot of attention on the status issue. Here we are. We have a delegation larger than 27 states, right? We can be helpful in deciding this primary yet we are not going to be able to vote for them in the general election.”
Puerto Rico has seven superdelegates altogether. For those keeping track, the three remaining undecided superdelegates are all firmly in the commonwealth category. They are Celita Arroyo de Roques, a national committeewoman, her son Eliseo Roques-Arroyo, an at-large DNC member, and Luisette Cabanas, the vice chair of the island’s Democratic Party.
The pro-commonwealth governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, is the lone superdelegate currently supporting Obama.
Kenneth McClintock, the president of Puerto Rico’s Senate, and Domenech, director of the Office of Legislative Services of the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly, are both pro-statehood. Puerto Rico’s one other pro-Clinton superdelegate, Roberto Prats—the chairman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico—is pro-commonwealth status.
The Clinton campaign declined to comment.