Saturday, May 17, 2008

Another pledged delegate switches to Obama

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

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.

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 Paper

Evans 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
Evans was elected as an at-large delegate earlier this month:
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....

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
I think it would be very interesting to see the papers Evans signed.

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.


jimmymac100 said...

Based on the information in your article, I oppose the pledge switch you report for Jack Evans (DC). I say this, even though Sen. Obama, the candidate I strongly support, benefits from the math of the change.

The pertinent language in the party rules is "shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them." Unless I am sorely mistaken, Evans's slot was fairly a Clinton slot, the leavings in a lopsided Obama wave in the DC popular vote. It was consistent with the slot's at-large status and the allocation of the three remaining at-large slots to Obama pledged delegates. It also reflected the clear vote of the participants in the DC Democratic State Committee meeting charged with finalizing the delegates.

Down Evans's pathway lies chaos and party cannibalism, not conscience.

In my state of Michigan, I have spoken out strongly against the manipulation of our processes by individuals in our party establishment -- many of whom had prior decades of my respect and support -- culminating in our January primary debacle and banishment of our delegation. I have decried the false, negativist choice of Clinton versus Not-Clinton on that ballot, the contradictory instructions to voters on what they should do, the deception by Clinton supporters who vied for uncommitted slots in our district conventions naming delegates based on the tainted January vote, and the rank hypocrisy of Sen. Clinton in her selective and migratory characterization of the Michigan "primary.”

Despite the many claims, Obama did not disenfranchise me because he declined revote proposals; those proposals were demonstrably manipulative and as potentially undemocratic as their January predecessor. My state party leaders are the ones who gambled with my voting rights -- and lost, deservedly, at the DNC. Terry McAuliffe well knows his own 2004 precedent for the Michigan penalty, with overlapping players wearing different work boots. The prints left behind in Michigan by those boots in 2008 were largely laid by Clinton supporters. Sen. Clinton has no standing to speak for my disenfranchisement...and I’m in relatively calm waters, compared to my wife, who has quite dramatically reversed her support for Clinton based on this and many other serious shenanigans.

Pledged delegates who change in the manner of Mr. Evans display the same lack of conscience demanded by the rules and their signed commitments. He should step aside and be replaced by an alternate. I didn't support that kind of politics in our own Michigan debacle when the clear quest is a Clinton benefit, and I don't see why I should support it in DC to benefit Obama. "Not this time" means just that.

Amot said...

Jimmy, I agree!
However this particular delegate can not be replaced since there is no alternate delegate backing Clinton in DC delegation... If he resigns he will deliver his vote to Obama die-hard! The problem is he was elected 2 weeks ago, he should say he has second thoughts and drop off. But he actually used his switch to gather more voters for his own reelection. Number one in his platform was - 'I switch to Obama'. Shame! I admire your wife, since she changed her preference due to serious reasons, based on the belief the game has to be honest above all... This guy, he is disgrace!

Rambling Johnny said...

Considering that the Clinton campaign have repeated a few times that they are going to go after Obama pledge delegate I only have one thing to say. Too fracking bad!

Matt said...

Amot- DNC rules require at least one alternate for every candidate that has a delegate. How do you know they didn't elect an alternate (it would be at-large) supporting Clinton? And even if they didn't, I'm sure they still could. So if Evans resigned, I think he would be able to replaced with a Clinton alternate.

KCinDC said...

Matt, DC has 4 alternates: 2 for District 1, 1 for District 2, and 1 at large. All are Obama supporters.

As with the Maryland switcher, I'm not happy about this sort of opportunistic violation of pledges. My outrage is limited, however, by the fact that these delegates are simply following Clinton's own interpretation of what being a pledged delegate means. It's an interpretation I don't agree with, but she can hardly complain that her delegates are taking her at her word when she released them from their pledges by saying they were free to vote as they wish.

Matt said...

KC - Well, that violates DNC rule 18.B, which say:

If a given presidential preference is entitled to one or more delegate positions in a state but would not otherwise be entitled to an alternate position, that preference shall be allotted one at-large alternate position.

But the DC delegation seems to have a knack for violating DNC rules, doesn't it.

KCinDC said...

I believe you're right, Matt. I'm going to leave that fight to others, though.

jimmymac100 said...

Rambling Johnny -- I hope you'll rethink your comment. In my view, that's precisely the kind of approach that will lead to the "chaos and cannibalism" that I referred to in my first post. I will not justify unprincipled behavior on the part of Obama supporters -- starting with myself -- at the same time I'm condemning similar acts by Clinton supporters.

No doubt there will be a future focus on substantive changes to the Democratic Party nominating process once all this is done. What is the model we will use to construct an improvement? What kind of philosophical fortitude will have emerged strong enough to guide the revision process? It's not just about the primaries, and it's not just about the election... it's about how we choose to move the nation forward. The Democrats can remake that model in our own turf in a principled way...or not.

Amot said...

DC is not the only state with similar problem I can immediately think of ID and AK. I think LA had something similar too. I agree all those states broke the rules. If a state is allowed to more than one alternate position, one at-large should be assigned to the candidate not having CD delegates alternate! But really it is not our problem, the campaigns should be aware of that and take care. BTW I think Obama does not face similar problem in any state - they have done their homework again!

JackFord said...

Clinton has now taken West Virginia . Nevertheless, Kentucky, Oregon and Montana are still to come.

The Democratic race for nomination is still very much alive and most likely to be decided by superdelegates If you haven't done so yet, please write a message to each of your state's superdelegates at

If youre tired of waiting around for those super delegates to make a decision already, go to and push them to support Clinton or Obama