Politics & Government

What Texas' superdelegates have to say

FORT WORTH — Linda Chavez-Thompson knows she holds the most valuable political currency seen in recent years: A superdelegate vote.

But after Tuesday night'ss primaries in North Carolina and Indiana — where Barack Obama handily took one victory and Hillary Clinton narrowly took the other — Chavez-Thompson still isn’t ready to cash it in.

An officer for the Democratic National Committee, she officially remains among hundreds of undeclared delegates in one of the most epic, historic and long-standing battles for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The primary is ... getting crazier by the day,” said Chavez-Thompson of San Antonio. “I don’t think we’re any closer to getting it sealed unless the superdelegates weigh in on it.”

It has been clear for some time that Obama and Clinton are so close in the delegate count that neither appears within reach of the magic number of 2,025 delegates to win the nomination, which puts more focus on the nation’s superdelegates, including 32 Texans with three more to be named later.

An unofficial Star-Telegram survey of Texas’ 32 superdelegates Wednesday shows that 13 support Clinton, 12 support Obama and seven are uncommitted.

Chavez-Thompson said she likely won’t reveal which candidate she supports until the national convention, not only because she is an officer on the DNC, but also because she’s a representative of the AFL-CIO, a union that has yet to endorse one of the candidates.

But she hopes the nomination will soon be settled.

“Please, let’s get it over with. Let’s get on with it,” she said. “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.”

And she fears that supporters of whichever Democratic candidate does not win the nomination will flip and vote for McCain, a Republican.

“We’ve got to get ready to convince our Democratic voters that voting for McCain is the worst of all options.”

Texas’ superdelegates said this week’s primaries didn’t make their support waver.

John Patrick of Friendswood decided just last week to support Obama and he said Tuesday’s primaries reaffirmed his choice.

“It’s apparent to me that there’s no clear path for Sen. Clinton to get the nomination,” said Patrick, a United Steelworkers official. “It’s a very murky path at best. ... I’m absolutely convinced after (Tuesday) night that we have a nominee now.”

Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, a Clinton superdelegate, said the fight will go on — and each candidate has a right to continue the battle.

“I don’t think that does anything except prolong the process,” Wright said.

Texas superdelegate Moses Mercado said he believes the process is already over.

“After (Tuesday) night, we’re having a wonderful day in Obama world,” said Mercado, who lives in Hidalgo County. “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.”

U.S. Rep. Gene Green of Houston said the former first lady still has his support.

“Sen. Clinton carried our district and it is difficult to vote against your constituents,” said Green, a superdelegate. “I want a Democratic nominee who can win nationally and we’ll wait and see what happens in the next few primaries.”

The only thing that’s clear now is that the race is still on, said Roy LaVerne Brooks, vice-chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

“It looks like it will have to go to the convention and we’ll have to deal with that,” said Brooks, an Obama supporter from Fort Worth. “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,” she said. “It took two candidates to do that and I give credit to both of them.”


Pledged to Hillary Clinton — U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Norma Fisher Flores of El Paso, Jaime Gonzalez Jr. of McAllen, U.S. Rep. Gene Green of Houston, U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa of Mercedes, David Holmes of Austin, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Sue Lovell of Houston, Robert Martinez of Dallas, U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, Bob Slagle of Sherman, former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright of Fort Worth

Pledged to Barack Obama — Roy LaVerne Brooks of Fort Worth, state Rep. Yvonne Davis, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards of Waco, U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez of San Antonio, U.S. Rep. Al Green of Houston, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas, Moses Mercado of Donna, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, former state Rep. Al Edwards of Houston, Denise Johnson of Houston, John Patrick of Friendswood

Uncommitted — Linda Chavez-Thompson of San Antonio, David Hardt of Dallas, U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson of Houston, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie of Graham, Betty Richie of Graham, U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, Robert Strauss of Dallas

Related stories from McClatchy DC