Superdelegates and the Credentials Committee (updated)

Coming out of Super Tuesday it looks like Clinton and Obama are tied in the only race that matters: the race for Democratic delegates.

In a surprise twist after a chaotic Super Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) passed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in network tallies of the number of delegates the candidates racked up last night.

The Obama camp now projects topping Clinton by 13 delegates, 847 to 834.

NBC News, which is projecting delegates based on the Democratic Party’s complex formula, figures Obama will wind up with 840 to 849 delegates, versus 829 to 838 for Clinton. [Link]

So let’s play this out to its logical conclusion. If the trend continues then Obama may win states like Virginia, Maryland, and a few other smaller states, but Clinton will probably take Ohio and my state of Texas (states with a large number of delegates). Regardless, the votes will be close enough that the delegates will be split fairly evenly by the time they get to Denver in August. If that is the case then the final decision as to who is the Democrats nominee will come down to two important, but little known groups. The first group is the Superdelegates comprised of Democratic party insiders (which you can assume will probably break for Clinton who is more connected to the establishment). They each get a vote and do not have to reflect the popular vote in any way. Currently Clinton has more committed to her (but they can still switch all the way through the end of the convention). As I scanned the list of Superdelegates I spotted only a single desi on it. It was Kamil Hasan who is currently committed to Clinton. Here is an article from 2006 explaining how Hasan fits in to the Democratic Party and why he was anointed “super”:

Kamil Hasan of Saratoga has a new job: collecting serious cash from the Indo-American community for the Democratic National Committee.

That job may not be as powerful as senator or congressman. But for the Bay Area’s roughly 155,000 Indo-American community members, Hasan’s appointment represents another step the well-educated, affluent immigrant group is taking to gain political clout. His goal is to raise at least $5 million through a newly formed Indian fundraising council in time for the next presidential election.

What’s most important, community members said, is that the appointment isn’t just about Hasan: It’s about the voice of the entire Indo-American community, about 2 million strong. [Link]




p>There is a great example of “emergent politics” for you right there. Kamil Hasan speaks for 2 million strong.

The DNC Credentials Committee is the other group we need to get real familiar with. They are the group that will eventually decide what happens with the Michigan and Florida delegates that got stripped away as punishment for those two states deciding to move up in the primary calendar without the blessing of the Democratic National Committee led by Howard Dean. Hillary won both those states despite the fact that neither candidate was allowed to officially campaign there. If those delegates are suddenly reinstated then the advantage clearly goes to Clinton. Obama would want to fight that. The Credentials Committee is chaired by one woman and two men. All three are former members (according to their bios) of the Bill Clinton Administration. Thus, at its face, it looks like Clinton has an advantage there as well. Also, don’t forget my post from last week. Dean recently announced that Pakistan-born Iman Malik Mujahid, founder and president of Chicago-based Islamic teaching materials distributor Sound Vision Foundation, was named to the credentials committee as a member and has a vote in that committee.

So, despite my earlier post about the Indian American vote and how it skewed, it may turn out that the only desi votes that matter in all of America are those of Hasan and Mujahid.

The reason this whole topic of Superdelegates and the Credentials Committee is so important is because it is possible that Obama wins the most delegates as determined by the direct vote of the people…but Clinton wins the final total if you count the Superdelegates and the stripped Michigan and Florida delegates. Can anyone say “Florida 2000?” Only this time it will be a vicious internecine battle that would harm the Democratic Party.

Late this afternoon it seemed that the Obama campaign finally started to become wise to these possibilities:

Obama, at his Chicago press conference just now, lays out his path to the nomination, which depends first on having a majority of pledged delegates.

“If this contest comes down to superdelegates, we are going to be able to say we have more pledged delegates, which means the Democratic voters have spoken. Those superdelegates, those party insiders would have to think long and hard how they would approach the nomination,” he said.

“The argument we would be making to superdelegates is, if we come into the convention with more pledged delegates then i think we can make a very strong argument that our constituencies have spoken and I think that’s going to be pretty important when it comes to the general election,” he says. [Link]

UPDATE: Looks like I missed a desi SuperDelegate. A helpful tipster from the DNC fills me in:



Mona Mohib is another South Asian DNC at-large delegate. She was appointed by Terry McAuliffe, and is the Vice Chair of the DNC APIA Caucus. She currently works at the Democratic Governors Association.

59 thoughts on “Superdelegates and the Credentials Committee (updated)

  1. I was but I am not married anymore. I got divorced last year.

    Sorry to hear that…but enjoy your newfound freedom. I was thinking of asking YOU about advice regarding marrying a non-desi…oh well…

  2. Sorry to hear that…but enjoy your newfound freedom. I was thinking of asking YOU about advice regarding marrying a non-desi…oh well…

    Divorce is one of the most common causes of wealth destruction. Given your particular background (Doc), hope you are well protected via a pre-nup.

  3. Not sure which side of the emergent/insurgent divide he falls — I would say that he is proof that someone can fall in both categories — but the Honorable Kumar P. Barve, Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, the first Indian-American elected to be a state legislator nationally, and the longest serving Indian-American elected official in America, has just endorsed Obama.

    Why I’m Supporting Barack Obama

    The Democratic Party has been fortunate to have several strong candidates running for president this year. But I believe Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is the right choice for our country at a critical point in America’s history.

    Some politicians earn respect through the force of ideas and policies. Others are natural leaders who inspire us to dream big. I believe Senator Obama can do both. He has a remarkable gift for articulating a vision of a stronger, more just nation. Like few politicians in my lifetime, he inspires us to put aside our doubts and believe again in what we can do as a people.

    The type of leadership that Senator Obama can provide is sorely needed after so many have lost faith in the federal government’s ability to address major issues. It’s time we push past boundaries preventing us from adopting a sound environmental approach, providing health coverage to all of our citizens and creating new economic opportunities. We also need a leader with a strong vision for honorably ending the war in Iraq.

    Senator Obama is best suited to inspire and rally the nation to handle these important tasks. I also believe that his appeal reaches beyond party lines, and if nominated, he stands the best chance of uniting the country.

    I urge you to join me in support of a remarkable American: Barack Obama.

    Kumar P. Barve

    Majority Leader

    361 House Office Building

    Annapolis, MD 21401

  4. “too much” engagement is coercion? how exactly? he’s convincing people to become voluntarily involved in politics, not coercing them. his argument is that he can convince people to do this in the future (as naive as that might be). your complaints seem to be of a libertarian bent, in which case ron paul’s your man. have fun with that gold standard!

  5. 30 · DTK said

    29 · Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said
    I went to a local Obama meet up and was really put off by the Obamanuts. Even his otherwise intelligent supporters now believe that silly platitudes instead of concrete policy positions is what you need to run the government. ‘Yes we can’, ‘Fired up, Ready to go’ ‘Elvis is back’ are more suited for a a Christian revival meeting than a political campaign.
    I think this fundamentally misunderstands both his campaign and politics in general, in my opinion. I addressed the policy vs. rhetoric argument — a false choice, IMO — here.

    As a follow up, here is a great video of an Obama supporter being confronted by a skeptic and patiently explaining the substance behind Obama’s candidacy. You may not agree with everything the guy says, but think of this the next time someone trots out the “Obama supporters are all about the hype and not about substance” line. (And as an example of civic engagement, this entire exchange is a thing of beauty.)

  6. 54 · jackal said

    “too much” engagement is coercion? how exactly? he’s convincing people to become voluntarily involved in politics, not coercing them.

    Its pretty obvious when Obama discusses an engaged citizenry he is talking about hs vision to tie people together through social programs.

  7. This article is an interesting insight into this Hillary-experience, Obama-hope meme. Executive summary: Obama is less combative, and downplays his own insight/intelligence, while your average Democrat is extremely good in details, and frames the narrative into a sort of combative them-versus-us thing, as seen in this extract:

    Here are Hillary Clinton and Obama speaking about the same subject, preventive care.

    “We have to change the way we finance health care, and that’s going to mean taking money away from people who make out really well right now, so this is going to be a big political battle,� Clinton said. “The insurance companies make money by employing a lot of people to try to avoid insuring you and then, if you’re insured, to try to avoid paying for the health care you received.� She stood at the front of the stage, declining an invitation to sit down next to the moderator. She spoke energetically but composedly, conveying the impression that she had spent a great deal of time preparing for the event because it was extremely important to her. “A lot of insurance companies will not pay for someone who’s pre-diabetic or been diagnosed with diabetes to go to a nutritionist to find out how better to feed themselves, or to go to a podiatrist to have their feet checked,� she said. “The insurance companies will tell you this: they don’t want to pay for preventive health care because that’s like lost money because they’re not sure that the patient will still be with them. But if they’re confronted with the doctor saying we’re going to have to amputate the foot they’re stuck with it. That is upside down and backwards!�

    Now here is Obama. “We’ve got to put more money in prevention,� he said. “It makes no sense for children to be going to the emergency room for treatable ailments like asthma. Twenty per cent of our patients who have chronic illnesses account for eighty per cent of the costs, so it’s absolutely critical that we invest in managing those with chronic illnesses like diabetes. If we hire a case manager to work with them to insure that they’re taking the proper treatments, then potentially we’re not going to have to spend thirty thousand dollars on a leg amputation.� A young man asked about health care for minorities. “Obesity and diabetes in minority communities are more severe,� Obama said, “so I think we need targeted programs, particularly to children in those communities, to make sure that they’ve got sound nutrition, that they have access to fruits and vegetables and not just Popeyes, and that they have decent spaces to play in instead of being cooped up in the house all day.�

    That is to say, if you’re a Democrat, here’s your choice:- “They won’t do it” versus “We should do it”.

    It’s quite apparent _why_ Obama is feeding _his_ narrative; there’s a form of coherent wisdom out there that says Gore lost the elections because he was a policy-wonk and couldn’t help stop being one. (Which is also why ye olde Democrats _love_ a policy-wonk, after seven years of neanderthal-like leadership at the White House)

    Not American here, but it’s rather fascinating how this is all playing out.

  8. I would like to alert the DNC that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS who serve the tax paying public. As aFemale African American US taxpayer, I would strongly advise Senator Hillary Clinton bring this matter up regarding the unfair delegate distribution by the DNC to the US Supreme Court. The honorable Barrack Obama is being used by the Republicans who are voting independent to set him up as a fall guy come the November 2008 Elections. We muct come together and realize that Mrs. Clinton is a stronger candidate to beat these miserable Republicans who are the true threat to United States Citizens. I work for the US Government and can tell you first hand how I have personally seen US Citizen rights be trampled upon by President Bush’s administration in the name of National Security. We wil someday have an African American Female President, hopefully Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, hint hint, who will go the distance for all of America and not be sidetracked by hatred or prejudism in any way, shape or form. Hillary For President. Don’t give up Girl……

  9. Hello I am a very day average american who has backed hillary clinton from day one. I sit here here and listen to all the controversary about Barack Obama,i cannot see how you Obama supporters can sit there and not see how he would be as president. he is full of lies and cannot be trusted.Sure 3 days before the last states vote he says he is no longer a member of the trinity church. How can you people not see through that. another lie that is going to get him the nomination.On the other hand
    Hillary Clinton has won the most states that carry the most delegates. and she is getting shafted.She deserves the nominee more than obama and is deffinitely more trust worthy. i hope she takes it all the way to the credentials commitee. because something is not right the way things are favoring obama Sincerely Melodie