Super-Delegates Keeping Their Options Open

SPOKANE — The eyes of the nation are on the Potomac where Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC are holding their presidential primaries.

Just after 4 p.m. Pacific Time came the first prediction of the day, with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois winning the Virginia primary. The win follows a weekend in which Obama routed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Louisiana primary as well as caucuses in Nebraska, Washington state and Maine.

While voters on the East Coast filled out their ballots Tuesday, here in Washington State voters are continuing to vote in the state’s mail-in primary. The vote on the Republican side counts for delegates while the vote for Democrats is merely symbolic, although it could help decide which candidate our state’s Super-Delegates support.

Given how tight the race for the Democratic nomination is it’s been widely reported that Super-Delegates may hold the race in their hands as they can choose to support whichever candidate they want.

“People are concerned now about the Super-Delegates because they could make a difference,” Jack Miller with the Spokane County Democrats said.

Washington State has 17 Democratic Super-Delegates and eight are still uncommitted which means next Tuesday’s primary election may have more pull for the Democrats than first thought. While caucus goers overwhelmingly supported Senator Barack Obama last weekend Senator Hillary Clinton is getting the nod from Washington’s Super-Delegates.

Miller says the state’s 17 Super-Delegates are made up of party leaders, elected officials and members of the Democratic National Committee. None of them are currently from the Spokane area.

According to the Seattle Times on Tuesday six of the state’s super delegates are already backing Clinton including Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and former House speaker Tom Foley.

Obama has the backing of just three Super-Delegates so far including Governor Christine Gregoire. He trails in Super-Delegates despite having the most voter support in every county in the state.

“You elect a state representative right, is the state rep bound to vote on a bill the way you want  or did you elect them to use their best judgment to use the facts at the time to use their best judgment to vote,” Jack Miller said.

Because every delegate now counts both campaigns are making a push to gain the support of the state’s uncommitted Super-Delegates. Some are receiving personal phone calls from the candidates and their top supporters.  Miller says though Washington voters could still have the most influence on those uncommitted Super-Delegates when they cast a vote in next Tuesday’s primary.

“Everyone will be looking at them. The campaigns will look at them. The state party will be looking at them because it will be an indication of how the election will go in November,” Miller said.

Super-Delegates can change their mind up until the national convention. In fact, Obama’s campaign manager in Washington said Tuesday if the senator continues to win states, he’d ask Clinton Super-Delegates to change their vote.

In the meantime here in Spokane County roughly 30-percent of voters have returned a ballot, more than half have been marked for the Democratic Party. Those ballots that haven’t been turned in yet need to be returned by next Tuesday to count.