early and often

New York’s Superdelegates: Who Are They, and What Are They Going to Do?

Nydia Velazquez

Photo: Getty Images

Man, the election is all about the superdelegates these days, huh? As Obama surges into the Potomac primary, the press remains unwilling to start making predictions about a serious downturn in Hillary’s chances. They’ve learned their lesson from New Hampshire, after all: There’s no telling what will happen in this race. Instead, the media is focusing on getting hysterical about superdelegates, and the possibility that the influence of those 796 unpledged party officials will swing the primary results away from the will of the voting public. But who are New York’s superdelegates? Who are these people who have the power to, well, take power away from us? They include Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, our 23 Democratic congressmen, and Democratic National Committee officials like Randi Weingarten. Many of the above have worked extensively with Hillary Clinton since she was elected senator and are likely to swing her way. Today, the Sun spoke with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who is one of our Clinton supporters. “I’ll be with Hillary to the end,” said Velazquez, when asked about critics of the superdelegate system who would like it to more accurately reflect the will of the people.

Well, we don’t want to change the rules now,” she explained. “I think that if people want to change the rules of the game, you have to do it immediately, right when we start a campaign like this one.” (It’s not a game, Nydia!) Though most of New York’s superdelegates are likely to vote for Hillary (Weingarten was seen out drumming up support for her on Super Tuesday), the Observer last week caught up with at least one who hasn’t decided. A partner at the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., Ralph Dawson says he thinks “both candidates have proven they’re worthy of being presidents and would make good presidents.” He’s going to wait until things shake down later in the season to see who is the “most electable.” According to the New York Times, 204 of the national superdelegates have decided to back Clinton, and 99 have pledged support for Obama. That leaves 493 in flux, and those people are being called constantly by influential supporters on both sides to try to sway their vote. Which makes us wonder what those 493 people must be thinking right now. What does it feel like to have people like Madeline Albright, Bill Clinton, and Ted Kennedy suddenly be your new best friend? How about how it feels, at the same exact time, to have the rest of the population of the country begin to think of you as a threat to democracy?

New York’s Superdelegates: Who Are They, and What Are They Going to Do?