Posted: Feb. 25, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Democratic presidential contest is more than primaries and caucuses.

It is also superdelegates, a collection of party leaders and elected officials, who automatically get to go to the national nominating convention and vote for whichever candidate they want, unbound by the primary or caucus returns in their own states.

Hillary Clinton is blowing Bernie Sanders away among the superdelegates.

The candidates could not be closer in the delegate count -- 52 delegates for Clinton and 51 delegates for Sanders -- after the voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, but superdelegates?

The Democrats have 712 of them, and so far there are 451 superdelegates with Clinton and 19 with Sanders, as tracked by the New York Times. (At least, that is where they are for now. Superdelegates are allowed to change their minds.)

That tally includes some from Delaware, which has 10 superdelegates:

John Daniello, the state chair; Bob Gilligan, the national committeeman who used to be the speaker; Karen Valentine, the national committeewoman; Lisa Goodman, the state vice-chair; Tom Carper and Chris Coons, the senators; John Carney, the congressman; Jack Markell, the governor; and one more party leader or elected official yet to be chosen.

Also Joe. The vice president is a superdelegate, or perhaps a super-duper-delegate.

The superdelegates are still sorting themselves out here.

Markell, Carper, Coons and Carney have all come out publicly for Clinton, which they did shortly after Biden took himself out of the presidential race.

Others, like Biden and Daniello, are currently committed to being uncommitted. Gilligan is decidedly with Clinton -- "I'm for her" -- but he does not think he is showing up on any official tallies, because he has not been polled anywhere.

The state Democrats will be sending a 31-member delegation, including the 10 superdelegates, to the national convention in July in Philadelphia, where it will take a vote of 2,382 out of 4,763 total delegates to elect a nominee.

Delaware's presidential primary, where the delegates will be allocated, is set for April 26.

The Democratic superdelegates were created in the 1980s to give more heft to the party establishment. After George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, the party decided enough was enough.

The Republicans, by the way, do not have a superstructure of superdelegates. This makes the Republicans more democratic than the Democrats are.

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The tone of national politics sounds like it is seeping into Delaware.

The presidential campaign is the place where Donald Trump was taunting Ted Cruz for what Trump described as waffling about waterboarding and repeated a crudity one of his supporters shouted.

It was meant to slur Cruz as way too soft and fuzzy. Pussy willow. Or something like that.

Now the Delaware Republicans have put out a press release from Charlie Copeland, their state chair, blasting a proposal from a pair of Democratic legislators to raise the gas tax.

The plan from Sean Matthews and Mike Mulrooney, both Democratic state representatives, calls for the tax to be imposed now to take advantage of the current drop in gas prices and then to expire after a year, or in legislative jargon, to "sunset."

Copeland objected, mainly because he could not conceive of the Democrats ever letting any tax be temporary, or as he put it in the press release:

"Sunset my ass."

Really, he did. Still, Copeland has a way to go to catch up with Joe Biden, that time an open microphone picked him up describing Obamacare as a big fat deal. Or something like that.