WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com
The last time we had a delegate battle last this long into the primary season was 1980, when Senator Kennedy (and, of course, our thoughts are with Senator Kennedy and his family this evening) was running against President Carter. In 1980, though, delegates were bound by rule F(3)(c) to vote for the candidate they were pledged to on the first ballot. That rules was abolished though, in 1982, and now:
12 J. Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.And that's all the rules say. Since 1980, there hasn't been a nomination fight close enough for these rules to come into play. But during this nomination battle, Sen. Clinton and her campaign have made the point that pledged delegates are not required to vote for the candidate they were elected for. From a rules point-of-view, her statement is completely true. Politically, though, this statement caused an uproar from the Obama side, about how this would subvert the will of the voter.
The debate, however, was mostly considered to be theoretical. All pledged delegates are signed-off by the campaigns, and are considered to be the most loyal of supporters. The idea that a pledged delegate would actually switch their vote while the nomination was still being contested was considered unlikely.
Well maybe these pledged delegates consider the nomination as no longer being contested, but with Clinton still campaigning, many observers consider the switching of pledged delegates to be very surprising and somewhat upsetting, no matter which way they've switched.
We had our first switch on Tuesday, when Maryland at-large delegate Jack Johnson switched from Clinton to Obama. And we had our second today:
DC Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans announced minutes ago he’s throwing his support behind Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Evans had been a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter, co-chairing her campaign in the District. Earlier this month, he’d been elected by local Democrats to serve as an at-large delegate pledged to Clinton.Evans was elected as an at-large delegate earlier this month:
Asked to explain his move, Evans cited “just the momentum that was going behind it.” He says he left a message with the Clinton campaign about the decision but was not able to speak with the senator before making the announcement today. - Washington City PaperEvans said he switched his support because Ward 2 overwhelmingly voted for Obama in the District primary in February. He said he is most concerned about having a Democratic White House. - Washington Post
The slots filled last night were all “pledged” slots, which could only be filled by candidates who had filed papers pledging their support to a particular candidate. Three of the four slots were pledged to Barack Obama, based on the results of the District’s primary vote. Only the seat Evans won was pledged to Hillary Clinton. The Clinton seat was also the only one that drew a contested vote....I think it would be very interesting to see the papers Evans signed.
Evans’ competition was Franklin Garcia, a committee member and technology consultant. His speech to his fellow members before the vote—which, according to witnesses, focused an awful lot on what a great candidate Obama is—failed to win him the Clinton slot: He lost 52-6. - Washington City Paper
As a final note, the Obama campaign is not recognizing Jack Johnson's switch in their current delegate count, and I would expect them to do the same with Evans.