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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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May 8, 2008 1:49 PM

Larsen throws superdelegate support to Obama

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, says he’s a Democratic superdelegate committed to Sen. Barack Obama.

Larsen has been neutral in the race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. He's holding a conference call with reporters right now. Larsen said:

This week Sen. Obama has proven that he is tough and resilient. He has shown that he can take a pounding but come back and communicate with the public to deliver his message of hope and change.

He said that he's been "particulary impressed by Senator Obama's truth-telling on the proposed gas tax holiday." Clinton supported a temporary suspension of the gas tax, but Obama called that pandering. Larsen said a tax holiday would "make little or no difference for Americans paying too much at the pump."

Larsen said that “as great as it sounds,” the gas tax holiday would save drivers about 31 cents a day, but take billions away from transportation projects across the country.

By definition, to me, it really looked like someone trying to create voters where votes didn’t exist. … It says to me that at least Senator Obama had the fortitude to call this gas tax holiday what it is, a gimmick.

Larsen 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 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 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.

Politico has a great national superdelegate tracker here.

There are a total of 796 superdelegates, including 17 in Washington. That's about 20 percent of the total delegates. In Washington, the superdelegates backing Clinton 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.

Those backing Obama are Congressmen Adam Smith and Brian Baird, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and DNC member Pat Notter.

Larsen has been critical of the power the party gives to superdelegates.

I’m still no fan of the superdelegate process. That doesn’t mean I’m not a superdelegate, I still am. And it is more and more clear that the superdelegates are going to decide the nomination. That said, we’re not going to be doing it in a … smoke-filled back room. … Superdelegates are going to come out one by one and make their decision.

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Posted by Nicole, Renton, WA

3:37 PM, May 08, 2008

It's about time he steps up to represent the voters. What a joke.

Posted by chris c

3:38 PM, May 08, 2008

Thank you rep. larsen you are a great American

Posted by Phil

4:41 PM, May 08, 2008

It is time for our state's other supers to get a backbone and choose someone. And if they want to help McCain they can prolong the Democrates agony by choosing or sticking with Hillary. They're still scared to cross the Clintons.

Posted by BoonWool

5:06 PM, May 08, 2008

McDermott for VP. Would never work, I just have always like the guy.

Posted by joaquin catalan

6:10 PM, May 08, 2008

the clintons are dead ducks, politically speaking.

Posted by geon

6:43 PM, May 08, 2008

Why not? It's pretty apparent he's going to get the nomination now. It's not like Larsen is sticking his liberal neck out.

Posted by YIKES

7:30 PM, May 08, 2008

Hillary will stay in until the bitter end for 3 reasons:
1) Set herself up for 2012
2) Be there if Obama implodes with another stupid comment and association.
3) Michigan & Florida situation still up in the air.

Posted by alice newton

8:01 PM, May 08, 2008

Super delegates need to know that Mrs. Clinton has won key swing states important in the general election. She has the support of the middle class who are the mojority of this country and has the support of women, Hispanics, seniors, blue collar Democrat and Republican, Catholics, Jews, Asian, and 12% of the African American vote. Mr. Obama can't win the general election with young and African American alone. Mr. Bush won with only 16% of the African American vote. On top of this take away the Republicans who voted for him to knock off Mrs. Clinton. She is the only one who can beat Mr. McCain in the general election.
If Mr. Obama is the nominee, welcome Mr. McCain or Nader since too many people are not going to vote for Mr. Obama.

Posted by Tom

8:21 PM, May 08, 2008

It's really time Clinton called it. If she has any loyalty to her party at all, she will.

btw, saw a funny website trying to get her to drop out: SurrenderHillary.com

Posted by JimD

9:43 PM, May 08, 2008

In the broader scheme of things, this fits with the strategy revealed by the Obama campaign yesterday - to slowly dribble a couple super delegates every day, mostly to let the Clinton supporters down softly in hopes of letting them resolve their issues with switching sides in a slow, methodical manner, lest they bolt and run away completely. There's even speculation that camp Obama is asking some to withold their announcement so not too many drop at once. Brilliant strategy - let's hope it works.

Posted by Jesse Hart

10:49 PM, May 08, 2008

Yikes, I hope this eases your worry some. Michigan in Florida would be highly unlikely to make a difference in the outcome even if they were both counted as is. Also I don't think Clinton seriously wants to sabotage Obama in 2008. I believe she will change the tone of her campaign now, and she might even play along with a strategy of slowly easing her support back into the fold for Obama. As for Obama imploding, it seems to me that is a fair argument for her to stay in the race until all of the states have had their say.

Posted by lesjam

10:58 PM, May 08, 2008

Pelz leans Obama. He can't declare yet probably because he's the state party chair. I'd be really surprised if he didn't endorse Obama.

Posted by AD

12:49 AM, May 09, 2008

Who are Eileen Macoll, Ed Cote, Sharon Mast and David McDonald?

Oh, they're just people who get to independently decide the future of this nation and world even though they're NOT representative of the people. There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with a party system that gives such weighted power to unelected, unaccountable insider party hacks.

Not every political party has such an (ironically) undemocratic nominating process....

Posted by JimD

7:44 AM, May 09, 2008

AD,
The democratic super delegates include every elected democrat mayor, Senate and House representative, other sitting elected officials, and ex-elected officials like Bill Clinton and John Edwards...etc. The balance are party activists. They are a collective safety net to implement the majority will of the people if there's buyer's regret after individual state primaries have been decided and it's too late to change the vote.
Like the electoral college, they're fairly irrelevant to the final outcome except in extraordinary situations, including a close race like this. But rest assured they have achieved representative authority or responsibility in one form or another to become super delegates, and their purpose is not to override the majority wishes of the party. To the contrary, they're role is to implement a significant majority shift in preference after it would otherwise be too late to do so.

Posted by ExFan

7:54 AM, May 09, 2008

What's wrong with the rest of the delegation? Oh, yeah, they are paying back Clinton even though 70% of Washington went for Obama. Note that McDermott, Murray and Cantwell have all had help from Hillary and/or Bill. Maybe they can help her repay her campaign debt, but in the meantime they should come out for Obama. But the party officials have no excuses, they're just a bunch of chickens.

Lesson for us all when these guys are all asking for $$: Don't give money to candidates that don't support our views.

Posted by Chief

10:04 AM, May 09, 2008

Washington is a leading Socialist State, so why not give the rockstar and Larsen plug. The way I see it, Socialism is just a democrats stone throw away. Our college students have been being brainwashed for years by old hippy professors. So they will send America spinning off in that direction fast.

Posted by Dave Gibney

11:01 AM, May 09, 2008

Eileen Macoll, Ed Cote, Sharon Mast and David McDonald were all elected via the grassroots WSDCC party structure. They are also accountable and up for re-election in January.
They also work very hard for the Democratic party. They've earned my trust and I wish them well with what was and may still be a hard decision.

Posted by AD

3:19 AM, May 10, 2008

JimD says "They [unaccountable superdelegates] are a collective safety net to implement the majority will of the people if there's buyer's regret..."

A safety net to protect whom from whom? It surely seems it's a safety net to protect insider Democrat Party activists from regular VOTERS.

Posted by JimD

2:37 PM, May 10, 2008

AD,
I could be used that way. But there's no evidence it either has been, or is going to be. The nomination - especially this one - is a dynamic event over the course of several months. What if there's an eleventh hour shift in consensus among those who voted in earlier primaries? In the meantime, I'll worry about the will of the people when if it appears it might be in jeopardy - which it isn't now and won't be - despite the hand wringing of those who don't understand the system or somehow believe the media's absurd suggestion that there's any chance the party would commit suicide. Do you remember the disaster in the 70's led to the creation of super delegates?

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May 9, 08 - 09:57 AM
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May 8, 08 - 01:49 PM
Larsen throws superdelegate support to Obama

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