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With John Edwards' endorsement of Barack Obama this evening, the question everyone is asking is, "What happens to Edwards' pledged delegates?"
Well, the first answer, is nothing. As we were reminded yesterday, pledged delegates can vote for anybody at any time. So, rules-wise, Edwards' endorsement is meaningless.
However, from a political and practical viewpoint, pledged delegates will keep their pledge to vote for the candidate they were elected for until "released" by that candidate. By endorsing Obama, Edwards finally ended his campaign, which had been "suspended" up to now, and "released" his delegates to vote for the candidate of their choice. Of course, these delegates may decide to follow their original candidate and support Obama, and Edwards will of course be contacting them to urge them to support Obama. But until these delegates speak up and say who they will be supporting, they will essentially become uncommitted delegates. Which, essentially, makes them no different than superdelegates. (We'll keep them in the Edwards column for now).
So how many Edwards delegates are there? Four from New Hampshire, 8 from South Carolina, and 4 so far from Iowa. (The names are at the bottom of the post).
But wait. That's only 16. The DCW tracker shows Edwards with 19 delegates. Why the difference? It's because Edwards is projected by The Green Papers to get 3 state-wide delegates at the Iowa State Convention on June 14. But as we learned at the Iowa Congressional District Conventions in April, these delegate projections are only estimates. And it's difficult to see the Edwards forces holding together in June. (assuming the race is still going on then). So those final 3 delegates will likely get reassigned to other candidates, leaving Edwards with the 16 delegates described above.
But we're not done yet. Edwards also won 13 delegates in Florida, all at the CD level. (He won only 14.4% of the state-wide vote, so just fell short of getting any state-wide delegates - he would have picked up 9 or 10 delegates if he had hit 15%). Whether he keeps them depends on 1) whether the Florida delegates get seated at all, and 2) under what rules they get seated. That will have to wait for the RBC meeting at the end of the month.
Finally, when the history of this nomination battle is written, one question that's going to be asked is, did John Edwards leave the race too soon? While it's impossible to predict that things would have turned out the same way had Edwards stayed in longer, there's no doubt that if Edwards has stayed in, he would have likely won a sizable number of delegates on Super Tuesday. And if so, instead of his endorsement being mostly symbolic, he might have ended up the biggest kingmaker of all, basically getting to decide whether Clinton or Obama would get his support, his delegates, and therefore the nomination.
Politico gives us the names of the delegates from NH and SC:
District Level Delegate: Joshua Denton, (Portsmouth) - Endorsed Obama 5/14
District Level Delegate: Deborah Bacon-Nelson (Hanover) - Endorsed Obama 5/23
Pledged Leader Elected Official: Senator Peter Hoe Burling (Cornish) - Endorsed Obama 5/23
At-large Delegate: Representative Sharon Nordgren (Hanover) - Endorsed Obama 6/3
Robert Groce - Will vote for Obama 5/15
Marilyn Hemingway - Endorsed Obama 5/16
E Tim Moore - Endorsed Obama 6/3
Christine Brennan-Bond - Endorsed Obama 5/15
Lauren Bilton - Endorsed Obama 5/15
Daniel Boan Kershaw - Endorsed Obama 5/15
Michael Evatt - Endorsed Obama 5/15
Susan Smith - Endorsed Obama 5/15
(we mistakenly listed John Moylan as a delegate - he is an alternate. Official list.)
Merci Wolff (Sioux City) - Endorsed Obama 6/3
Machelle Crum (Newton) - Endorsed Obama 5/15
Arlene Prather-O'Kane (Cedar Falls)- Endorsed Obama 5/16
David Redlawsk (Iowa City) - Endorsed Obama 6/3
Florida: (CD districts shown)
1 Bill Vincent - Endorsed Obama 6/3
2 Mary Mooney - Endorsed Obama 6/3
2 E. Alan Brock - Endorsed Obama 5/17
(Back to Edwards 6/1 - see below)
4 Deborah Courtney - Endorsed Obama 6/3
5 Fred McDowell - Endorsed Obama 6/3
6 Debbie Boyd
7 Joseph Beutenmuller - Endorsed Obama 6/3
12 Justin M. Troller
13 Rita Ferrandino - Endorsed Obama 6/3
14 Sally Gene Frederick
15 Barry Randall Birdwell - Endorsed Obama 6/3
16 Linda E. Spisak - Endorsed Obama 5/17
(Back to Edwards 6/1 - see below)
24 Gregory M. Shimkaveg - Endorsed Obama 6/3
Update: NH delegate Joshua Denton endorses Obama. Sidebar will be updated after the Green Papers updates.
Update 2: From Crack the Bell:
Just got an email from Daniel Boan (Edwards pledged delegate from SC):Update 2A: Supposedly John Moylon and Lauren Bilton said on CNN last night they were supporting Obama. We'll try to find confirmation. More from CNN:
"Sen. Edwards's endorsement will be an important factor in how I decide to vote."
John Moylan, a former senior adviser to the Edwards campaign, said the former North Carolina senator's delegates "are very, very committed to John Edwards."
He said at least six of his eight delegates in South Carolina are prepared to endorse Obama.
"I think you will see overwhelming support of John Edwards delegates standing with John Edwards, and now standing for Barack Obama," he said on CNN's "American Morning."
The co-chair of John Edwards’ presidential campaign in Iowa, Rob Tully, said he hopes the former vice presidential candidate’s supporters in the state heed his endorsement Wednesday of Barack Obama. “I was excited to see him endorse Obama,” Tully said. “I’m certainly going to follow his lead.”Update 4: The names of Edwards' Iowa pledged delegates have been added thanks to Avi at Politico
Tully said he would reach out to those delegates, as well as others going to the state convention, encouraging them to close ranks behind Obama. “I encourage all our Democrats in Iowa to realize this race is over,” he said. - Quad City Times
Update 5/15 11:30 PM: Six delegates from SC have endorsed Obama and have been moved to the Obama column. We will update potential Iowa endorsements tomorrow.
Update 5/16: Machelle Crum, Arlene Prather-O'Kane (IA) and Marilyn Hemingway (SC) have been moved to the Obama column
Update 5/23: NH delegates Bacon-Nelson and Burling switched to Obama.
Update 6/1: The two Edwards delegates from Florida have been moved back to Obama by Green Papers pending further information on the status of all Florida pledged delegates after the RBC ruling.
Update 6/4: Major updates from yesterday. All Edwards delegates except 3 from Florida have endorsed Obama. Also, Edwards still has 3 state-wide delegates from Iowa, which will be allocated at the Iowa State Convention on June 14th. They will remain in Edwards column until then.