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Over the last two months we have looked at the dark and mysterious world of the superdelegates. Some people have called their power tyrannical and others think their very existence is undemocratic. Last week I entered this dark world and spoke to one of these "undemocratic tyrants".
Jenny Greenleaf is one of us. She's not a demon bent on the end of our democracy. She has no intention of denying American citizens of their right to choose their preferred candidate.
And as one of Oregon's 13 superdelegates, Greenleaf will be able to choose who she wants to be nominated as the next President of the United States.
After seeing the following comment on MyDD, I had to talk to her:
I'm a DNC committeeperson from Oregon, which makes me a superdelegate.
I get a call from two or three media organizations every week. I politely explain that I am not endorsing any of our great candidates yet. They then ask if I am leaning toward anyone, and I say no. (Because I'm an officer of the state party, and we don't want the state party to be seen as providing more or better services to one candidate or another, I plan to stay neutral until Oregon's late primary in May.
So, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS/New York Times call the superdelegates constantly. I suspect that when the reporters count up the superdelegates, they are using slightly different ways of deciding if someone is a supporter or not. It depends on whether they count the leaners. And how many people they managed to reach for that particular poll.
Greenleaf isn't a life-long party member. Like many people she became politically active in 2002. After being laid off from a tech job she wanted to work on something that would make a difference. Her goal was to make the Democratic Party less mysterious and more efficient.
She started out doing fundraisers and moved on to help the Dean and Kerry campaigns in 2004. Jenny was selected as a delegate and attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. At the time she was a regular blogger on American Street. She told me that the delegates were really just extras on the convention floor and that she spent a lot of time hanging out in the nose-bleed seats with the other bloggers. Greenleaf won her DNC seat in Dec. '04, and thus became a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
The media calls her at least once a week asking for her preference. The Oregon Democratic Party has decided not to make endorsements yet, so she remains Uncommitted. The Clinton, Edwards and Obama campaigns call to ask for an endorsement about every other week. Greenleaf mentioned that the Clinton campaign has made the most calls.
We will continue to follow our Oregon superdelegate through the convention and bring you more proof that superdelegates are people too.
Update: Jenny Greenleaf left a comment to this story on MyDD
I am not undemocratic. I work really hard to make sure the Party is transparent. I got involved because I thought the Party needed to change. I personally find the processes we use to elect our leaders to be Byzantine, to say the least. I'm not going to defend it, but I do believe you have to understand how it works to try to change it. I've been on a mission to do that since I got started in 2002.
Let me see if I can clear up some misconceptions about the superdelegates. For the most part, they are elected in one fashion or another. The congress members and governors were elected by the people in their states. Most of the DNC members are elected by their parties. Others are elected by organizations, such as the Democratic Secretaries of State. A few were appointed by Governor Dean.
I worked my tail off in the 2002 and 2004 campaigns. That's how I got on the DNC....it certainly wasn't decided in a smoke-filled room. The people who elected me to the DNC were elected to the state party from their county parties. Our county parties contain the most progressive activists in our state, and it's those folks who elect the DNC members.
While campaigns do call us with requests for endorsement, nobody has tried to twist my arm or offer me an ambassadorship to New Zealand. Nobody has been anything but polite. I have received no calls from any dark, shadowy bodies informing me that they've chosen the candidate. It's all quite above board.
Some of you have said that a superdelegate vote counts more than yours. Again, not defending the status quo, it is true that the superdelegates could make a difference if they vote in a monolithic bloc. I don't know the congresspeople real well, but I do know that DNC members have a widely varied set of backgrounds, allegiances, and preferences. I expect their votes will be as varied. by Jenny Greenleaf on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 01:13:42 PM MST