Remember the spring of 2008, when political pundits worried that Democratic superdelegates might defy the primary results and swing the presidential race from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton?
It didn’t happen, of course, but the D.N.C. was worried enough to charter a “Change Commission” to look at the process. Last week, the commission proposed that superdelegates–who include members of Congress and others atop the party totem pole–be reined in, and made to vote the public will in their state.
“Openness, fairness, and accessibility are central to our ideals as Democrats, and the Commission’s recommendations to reform the delegate selection process will ensure that voters’ voices and preferences are paramount to our process of nominating a Presidential candidate,” said D.N.C. chairman Tim Kaine in a statement.
Not all superdelegates like the plan.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Representative Eliot Engel said of the proposal. “I think it’s a mistake. I think we need to open the party up as much as possible, but I think the input of each elected official is an important piece of the whole pie.”
“[A primary] shouldn’t be decided in a back room, but I think that the input of individual members is very important and that’s why superdelegates were created in the first place,” Mr. Engel said. “To now put a restriction on superdelegates doesn’t make any sense to me, because then you can have a robot sitting there then and you don’t need superdelegates.”
Robert Zimmerman, a D.N.C. member and a non-congressional superdelegate, said he’ll oppose the plan. “Under the proposed recommendations of the change commission, John Kerry and Deval Patrick could have been blocked from voting for Barack Obama–that to me is undemocratic,” he said.
“Why are we consumed with staring at our navels and focusing on issues that won’t have effect until 2016? Quite frankly we have a much bigger problem than Democratic party procedures,” said Mr. Zimmerman, referring to the impending midterms. “They issued a report that will begin an important discussion and an important debate. But all that should be taking place in 2013.”
So why are others in the party taking it up now?
“We Democrats never miss an opportunity to analyze ourselves,” he said.