The Democratic Party should switch to a “winner take all” delegate system in time for the 2012 presidential primary elections, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, told the Contra Costa Times’ editorial board this morning. (Tauscher also delivered her annual speech to the Contra Costa Council today. Pick up a Thursday copy of the Times to read my full story on her speech.)
The party’s current proportional method, where delegates in each state are awarded to the candidates based on election results, has produced a stalemate between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. With close results in many of the states where primaries have been held, neither candidate has collected the requisite 2,024 delegates to secure the nomination at the party’s convention in Denver in August.
CNN’s latest figures show Obama with 1,622 delegates to Clinton’s 1,485.
A few primaries remain on the schedule but neither candidate can mathematically win enough delegates.
That leaves the selection of the nominee in the hands of the so-called “super delegates,” the 796 people designated by the party to cast votes in the convention including Democratic members of Congress.
“Believe me, there’s nothing ‘super’ about being a super-delegate,” said Tauscher, who is one of California 71 super-delegates. “I think we need to move to a winner-take-all system before the next election. This decision should not be in my hands or the hands of the super-delegates.”
Tauscher hopes the selection will be settled before the convention but admits it could become a political cliff-hanger. The party also needs to figure out how how to seat delegates in Florida and Michigan, states that flouted party primary schedule rules and were told their results were void.
Super-delegates are free to vote for the candidate of his or her choice regardless of the election results back home. Tauscher supports Clinton, who won in California on Feb. 5. Under a winner-take-all process, she would have taken all of the state’s 441 delegates.
Instead, Clinton will seat 134 California delegates and Obama will receive 107 from among the 241 delegates who will be elected in April 13 caucuses.
Also, per the California Democratic Party web site: Clinton won the statewide vote with 54.4 percent of the vote and therefore she gets 44 At-Large Delegates and 26 Party Leader/Elected Official Delegates. Barack Obama won 45.6 percent of the vote and gets 37 At-Large Delegates and 22 Party Leader/Elected Official Delegates.
Tauscher is one of 71 California super-delegates, per the Democratic Party: 33 Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members, 31 Congressional Members, plus the vacant Tom Lantos seat which should be filled prior to the convention, and 1 former DNC Chair, Charles Manatt. Actually, there are 35 Democrats in Congress (33 House & the vacant Lantos seat, plus Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein) but four of our Congressional Members are also on the DNC and therefore are counted as DNC Members.
A winner-take-all election process would more closely mirror that of the general election, where the candidate with the most votes in state win that’s state’s Electoral College votes, Tauscher said.
“Ultimately, that’s how we beat the Republican nominee is by winning the most Electoral College votes,” she said.
The party also needs to simplify a delegate math system that has produced a cottage industry for political math gurus equipped with high-tech computerized “white boards” who befuddle viewers with endless numerical scenarios on national television.
“Could we have possibly made this process any more difficult?” she laughed.