One of this weekend’s biggest news items was Governor Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Senator Obama. What made the endorsement so interesting was that the Obama camp for months has been arguing that the superdelegates should abide by their constituents and cast their votes according to the popular vote in their home districts or states. This argument is undermined by the fact that Senator Clinton won the New Mexico caucus by a little less than 4,000 votes. One might be swayed by Richardson’s arguments that the election was so close it’s not as much as an issue as a superdelegate from Georgia (which Obama won by 30 points) endorsing Clinton. Or the fact that Obama won Richardson’s former congressional district and therefore won Richardson’s core constituency.
These arguments are flimsy. What is the threshold for switching alligences? Less than 1%? 1%? Most states are considered swing states if the margin of difference is less than 5%. Furthermore, Richardson hasn’t held the seat in the 3rd district since 1997. He’s two different government jobs since then (both in unelected positions) and it was the people of NewMexico, not the people of Santa Fe County that made him governor.
Obama and his supporters cannot continue to play the “will of the people” card if one of their high-profile endorsers is in fact bucking that will. So what to do? The only sensibile solution is to say “thanks, but no thanks.” The campaign must forcefully announce that not only must the superdelegates abide by the will of the people but that the candidates will as well. Obama should make it his personal policy that he is appreciative of the support of big name superdelegates such as Richardson, but come the convention in August he will not accept their vote, especially if it puts him over the top. As the current delegate count stands right now neither Clinton nor Obama will secure enough pledged delegates in the remaining contests to cross the finish line, it’s going to come down to superdelegates or some very brave pledged delegates on the floor. By stating that he will not accept the a vote that stands counter to the superdelegates constituency Obama will lead by example and certainly take some of the pressure of off those undecideds. It might even pave the way for a deal before the convention