Democratic Party super-delegate Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who faces his own tough re-election campaign in November, has declared his support for Barack Obama, helping push the Illinois senator over the magic number needed to secure the presidential nomination.
McNerney has been one of the longest hold-outs among the super-delegates, a list of party leaders and members of the U.S. House Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He has repeatedly said he wanted to wait until the conclusion of the Democratic Party’s primary schedule, which determines the delegate apportionment from each state. The final two states, South Dakota and Montana voters, cast their ballots today.
“I don’t believe the decision should be made by the super-delegates,” McNerney said. “But Senator Obama has won the delegates fair and square.”
McNerney said he spent about 10 minutes on the phone with Obama on Monday, where the congressman said the pair discussed energy policy. McNerney is a former wind energy consultant whose platform includes a call for a federal push for the creation of green jobs.
“I wanted to clarify some issues and talk about how I felt that we needed to move ahead aggressively on energy policy,” McNerney said via telephone from Washington, D.C., late Tuesday. “I wanted to get the feeling that we were aligned on these issues and after we talked, that removed any hesitation that I might have had.”
McNerney called Obama a “great candidate who has a message that really aligns with mine, one of hope and healing for the country, and energizing the people and the youth. There’s a great feeling out there and I’m happy to be endorsing him.”
McNerney has been repeatedly pressed for months to name his favorite in the tight race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY. But it would have provided him no political advantage in his own re-election campaign against presumed GOP nominee Dean Andal of Stockton.
Obama received only 39 percent of the vote in congressional District 11 against Cilnton’s 54 percent. Of course, February was a long time ago and Democrats will strive hard to bury the hatchets and unit behind the nominee.
The best outcome for McNerney, who is counting on a Democratic lift in November from the top of the ticket, may rest with an Obama-Clinton partnership, if she is offered and accepts the vice president slot.
“I think Clinton would be a great choice for vice president,” McNerney said. “It woudld really energize the party. If I get the opportunity, I’m going to encourage Senator Obama to select her.”
On the other hand, McNerney might himself be on the short list for veep and he wouldn’t want to jeopardize his own political career. (That was a joke, folks.)
UPDATE 7:44 P.M. Read more for McNerney’s official press release
MCNERNEY ENDORSES OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerry McNerney announced his support for Senator Barack Obama.
“The primary process this year has been both extensive and exciting and I’m pleased that millions of Americans took the opportunity to weigh in. As we reach the conclusion of this process, I’m honored to endorse Senator Barack Obama.
“Throughout his legislative career and during the course of this campaign, Senator Obama has shown integrity and a willingness to work with all Americans to be an effective leader that will help us confront the many challenges we face.
“Senator Obama represents hope for the future. He has inspired legions of young people who will energize our nation and help bring about the kind of change necessary to turn the incredible threats we face into opportunities.
“Given my background in wind energy, I am excited that Senator Obama has an appreciation for how to create clean, sustainable, family wage jobs in renewable energy. He also knows how important it is to use America’s greatest asset, innovation, to put America ahead of rising energy costs with new energy technology including both efficiency and new sources of energy.”