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DNC Change Commission #2 – Super Delegates

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 Or, more accurately, automatic unpledged party leader and elected official delegates (“AUPLEOs”).  In 2008, nearly 20% of national convention delegates were super delegates – Distinguished Former Party Leaders (DFPLs, e.g., former DNC Chairs), Governors, Senators, members of Congress, and DNC members.  The 2008 Convention Resolution requires “a significant reduction in the number” of such delegates.  It also provides for a review of the formulas for delegate allocation to make sure that the delegates accurately reflect the will of the voters. 

The October Change Commission meeting heard several  options.  All would eliminate the few unpledged add-on delegates, which are elected at state conventions.  Then the options were (1) make all super delegates non-voting, (2) keep DFPLs and governors, but cut DNC members and Congress members by 40%-50%; (3) keep DFPLs and governors, eliminate members of Congress and the DNC, but expand the numbers of pledged PLEO delegates, which are elected at state conventions and are pledged to candidates; or (4) continue to have automatic delegates, but require them to be pledged (with the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (“RBC”) to work out details.

It was never intended that super delegates thwart the choices of primary and caucus voters, but it is important for elected officials and party leaders to be part of the convention and party processes.  Clearly, however, there are currently too many super delegates. 

At the October Change Commission meeting, DFPL Don Fowler recommended reducing the number by 1/3 by giving super delegate status to DFPLs, DNC elected officers, state party chairs and 1st vice chairs, governors, and congressional committee chairs or ranking members. Frankly, this seems like a good approach to me.  The Plan should also expand the PLEO category so non-super members of Congress (and DNC members) don’t have to run against their constituents, but would still be pledged to a candidate.  Finally, DNC members and members of Congress who are not delegates should have floor pass credentials at the convention.  As a DNC member who never was a super delegate (my term of office started at the end of the 2008 convention), I think I could live with a floor pass.

This is the second of three postings that discuss the rules issues the DNC Change Commission will consider at its (final) December 5, 2009 meeting.