Superdelegate (and Congressman) Bob Filner wants a costume that befits his status.
“I want a cape that says ‘Superdelegate' on it,” he said.
No doubt that can be arranged. Filner's super power may well be that he gets to choose the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. He is among a group of 796 such people nationally whose vote at August's Democratic Convention will not be bound by the will of the voters, as most of the other 3,253 delegates' will be. Those other, mortal delegates have been given marching orders by the primary voters of their states, or strong suggestions by their state caucuses. With 21 contests still to go, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in a dead heat for regular delegates.
But, who are these gods among mortal delegates? California gets 66 of them, 36 being Democratic members of Congress. The remaining 30 superdelegates are members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The state party elects 19 DNC members, and the state party chair, vice chair and former chair are automatically in. Democratic Super-duper-delegate (and DNC chairman) Howard Dean appoints the remainder. San Diego County Democratic Party Chairman Jess Durfee said Dean, as is typical, appointed members of underrepresented groups to the DNC—the physically disabled, ethnic and racial groups, military veterans and so forth.
However, Dean doesn't seem to consider San Diegans an underrepresented minority; we have no representatives on the DNC and haven't in the last 30 to 40 years, Durfee said. DNC members serve four-year terms, and they're sworn in immediately after each presidential convention. Durfee himself plans to run next time. (The people who get to go to the convention as regular delegates are selected by congressional district. On April 4, at 3 p.m., registered Democrats and anyone willing to register on the spot as a Democrat can vote for a delegate.)
That means San Diego gets two superdelegates: Filner and Rep. Susan Davis. How will they vote? So many options: Vote for whomever wins the most delegates nationally? Vote as the state did? As the district did? Vote one's conscience? Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have begun to work the phones. Davis couldn't be reached for comment, but Filner said he's spoken with aides for both camps, getting the most love from the Clinton side—several voice messages from Hillary herself, conversations with aides and a long talk two weeks ago with the former president.
He said he's told both campaigns the same thing: “I'm maintaining my neutrality because I want to hear veterans' issues discussed.” Filner is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and he has long made veterans' issues one of his top concerns.
But his most fervent dream is to cast the deciding vote.
“It's my dream that each side will get 2,024 delegates, and I'll cast the deciding vote,” he said.
In the meantime, he concedes that perhaps superdelegates are getting a little too much sway this time around.
“There seems to be too many delegates this time,” he said. “Too many people not making decisions who haven't had to be elected in support of a candidate.”