McClatchy reporters around the country interviewed Democratic Party superdelegates about how they see the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama now. This is what they said:
ED ESPINOSA, Democratic National Committee member, Long Beach, Calif., political and public relations consultant; worked on Bill Richardson’s campaign, undeclared. “I haven’t really had a chance to clear my mind and think about this since watching the election returns. Mathematically, it doesn’t look good for Hillary Clinton. But it’s not over yet and there are still states to vote.” Espinosa said he believes many undeclared super delegates actually have made up their minds but want to see the process play out. He’s getting lots of calls. “I’m a pretty popular guy these days,” he said.
STEVEN YBARRA, professor at Sacramento City College, undeclared, said he’s angry neither Clinton nor Obama has spent much on Spanish-language advertising. “Here is the real deal: Unless somebody comes up with a plan to deal with Mexican-American voters, they’re going to lose in November,” Ybarra said. “Would you be happy if they ignored your constituency? I’m not budging. I’ve got no reason to move.” Clinton should stay in the race because “this is a campaign that deserves to go to the end.”
CRYSTAL STRAIT, 28, one of three appointees to the Democratic National Committee by the Young Democrats of America, undeclared, said she is holding out to pressure both Obama and Clinton to prove they can get young voters to the polls in November. She thinks the continuation of the race is good for the party. “I was just on a phone with a superdelegate from Puerto Rico. They are so excited and that just speaks to the energy of this campaign. At this point, I think this has been great for the party.”
BOB MULHOLLAND, Democratic National Committee member and political consultant, undeclared. “As a DNC member we voted on a primary schedule though June 3 and I’m sticking to that plan. “I think it’s appalling that the next six elections shouldn’t matter. And I’m loving the voter registration and turnout records on the Democratic side. It’s good for the fall campaign.” Clinton’s continuing is good for Obama. “A person runs faster when somebody is on their heels. You don’t break records by having no opponent. These candidates are going way beyond what either of them felt they were capable of. That’s what we will need for the general election. John Kerry went windsurfing and took vacations as the Iraq war continued. I want to see some sweat on my candidates.”
STEVEN ALARI, Los Angeles, president of a Service Employees International Union district council, endorsed Obama. “Senator Obama will get the nomination and I’m looking forward to that day.” Should Clinton quit? “It’s up to Senator Clinton. But the sooner we consolidate our Democratic Party to beat John McCain the better.”
CHRISTOPHER STAMPOLIS, Santa Clara, Calif. community college trustee, endorsed Clinton in January. Said he wants to study the voting patterns. “As a super, I have the responsibility and the luxury to assess these results academically. “If either candidate shows significant weaknesses among any segments of voters, we’re at a disadvantage.After the final primaries are done, I really believe all the superdelegates have to take a deep breath and everybody should push the reset button. I think we need to take a look at who really is the most viable.”
HELEN KNETZER, Wichita superdelegate, president of the National Federation of Democratic Women, undeclared. “I will not make a commitment until the last primary is over. I’m trying to keep an open mind and really trying to be alert because a lot of things are going to happen in the next month.” She said repesentatives of the two camps have contacted her as recently as three days ago.
JERRY MEEK, North Carolina Democratic Party chairman, endorsed Obama on Wednesday.
“Over the past year, I've watched as Barack Obama has drawn countless new people to the political process," he said in a statement. "Although my position as State Chair has led me to remain neutral through the primary, I've quietly celebrated as Barack Obama offered new hope to millions of Americans who have lost faith in the American dream after years of disastrous Republican policies."
JEANETTE COUNCIL, Cumberland County commissioner, endorsed Obama Wednesday.
“I would have no problem voting for either of the two," she told the Fayetteville Observer. "But of the two, I think Barack Obama is the better candidate."
REP. JOHN SPRATT, chairman of the House Budget Committee, undeclared, but moving towards Obama. Chuck Fant, a Spratt spokesman, noted that Obama carried all 14 counties in the congressman’s district Jan. 26. While he wants to keep his options open, Fant said, “he also thinks Obama’s popularity in the 5th District cannot be ignored.”
REP. JIM CLYBURN, House Majority Whip, highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress, undeclared, but increasingly critical of the Clintons for their approach toward African-American voters.
REP. GILDA COBB HUNTER, member of the Democratic National Committee, undeclared. Cobb said she found Tuesday’s surprisingly close primary in Indiana “interesting” but stopped short of calling for Clinton to bow out of the race. “That has to be a personal decision made by that candidate. I’m in no position to suggest that anyone do that.” She's concerned about the tone, however. "Please stop the personal attacks. Let’s keep it positive. Let’s not do the Republican’s work for them. If the tone does not improve, Cobb-Hunter said she may soon endorse a candidate in coming days instead of waiting until after her House primary in June.
WILBER LEE JEFFCOAT, first vice president of the S.C. Democratic party, retired trucker, undeclared. He's waiting on party leaders. “I’m waiting to see what they’re going to do, if they’re going to call us together and give us some direction. I don’t know if they’re going to do something now or let this thing play out until the end.”
RUTH RUDY, Centre County, endorsed Clinton.
Of Tuesday’s results: “Well, it certainly was a bump in the road, but it hasn’t changed my mind as far as a superdelegate. II committed (to Hillary) very early on as soon as she announced. I’m waiting to see the process play out. There are only three more weeks. I think all the voters should have their say. There are six contests yet. I’m not telling the other voters what to do.”
LINDA CHAVEZ-THOMPSON, of San Antonio, member of the Democratic National Committee, undeclared. Said she's unlikely to reveal her choice until the national convention in August and because the AFL-CIO, of which she's an officer, hasn't endorsed. “I don’t think we’re any closer to getting it sealed unless the superdelegates weigh in on it. Please, let’s get it over with. Let’s get on with it. The thing that troubles me is that ... a lot of people are not paying attention to the other nominee — John McCain. He’s not getting the questions. His record isn’t out there.”
JOHN PATRICK, an official of the United Steelworkers union and a resident of Friendswood, Texas, declared for Obama last week. "It’s apparent to me that there’s no clear path for Sen. Clinton to get the nomination. I’m absolutely convinced after (Tuesday) night that we have a nominee now.”
JIM WRIGHT, former speaker of the U.S. House, declared for Clinton. Said each candidate has a right to continue the battle, but that he doesn't see foresee a change in the current situation. "I don’t think that does anything except prolong the process.”
MOSES MERCADO, of Hidalgo County, Texas, declared for Obama. “After (Tuesday) night, we’re having a wonderful day in Obama world. This thing is done. The only one who doesn’t think so is Sen. Clinton. Mathematically, it’s not there for her. But I guess she can stay in as long as she wants.”
REP. GENE GREEN, of Houston, declared for Clinton. “Sen. Clinton carried our district and it is difficult to vote against your constituents. I want a Democratic nominee who can win nationally and we’ll wait and see what happens in the next few primaries.”
ROY LAVERNE BROOKS, vice-chair of the Texas Democratic Party, of Fort Worth, declared for Obama. “It looks like it will have to go to the convention and we’ll have to deal with that. This race has not been a normal race and anything can happen. I am just so excited and delighted that the average voter is taking an active role. It makes my heart feel so proud to see Americans come out and do what they should have been doing a long, long time ago. It took two candidates to do that and I give credit to both of them.”
DAVID T. MCDONALD, Seattle, member of the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee, said he won’t declare until after the committee meets May 31 to decide what to do with the Florida and Michigan delegations. Clinton, however, faces a tough road, and Obama must help find a way to resolve the Florida/Michigan problem.
“She has a really uphill battle and she really needs Michigan and Florida to somehow be added to the mix. At the end of the day I think Hillary’s supporters have to decide for her and with her whether she should go forward with the campaign or come up with an exit strategy. It’s not for somebody else to tell them the race is over. Because the race is not over.”
“If you assume for the moment that Obama is the nominee, and the press today was making that assumption, it seems to me it is his problem to come forward with a solution that works. If he is planning on being the leader of the party of the free world, he needs to be able to come up with a solution to problems like this.”
(Contributing were Peter Hecht of the Sacramento Bee, Brad Shannon, of The (Olympia, Wash.) Olympian, Brent D. Wistrom of the Wichita Eagle, Jim Rosen of the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Ryan Teague Beckwith of the (Raleigh) News & Observer, Anna M. Tinsely of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aman Batheja of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Sara Ganim of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.)