DNC Takes Another Step to Minimize Superdelegates' Role

Booker and Harris could get increased attention in SCOTUS confirmation fight.

July 12, 2018, 10:15 a.m.

“Democratic Party officials took a major step Wednesday toward sharply reducing the role and influence of powerful political insiders in the presidential nominating process,” a change Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and other progressives pushed for “after the 2016 campaign.”

“These insiders, called superdelegates, who are free to back any candidate regardless of how the public votes, would no longer be allowed to vote during the first ballot of the presidential nominating process at the party’s convention in most circumstances. Superdelegates would only be able to vote in extraordinary cases such as contested conventions, where the nomination process is extended through multiple ballots until one candidate prevails. They would still have a significant voice in other party debates outside of presidential nominations.”

“The party’s rules committee officially adopted the language Wednesday in advance of a final vote during the Democrats’ summer convention next month in Chicago. Members of the DNC are now hoping the measure will move forward in August without fanfare, therefore settling the matter before November’s all-important midterm elections and well before the 2020 presidential campaign season.” (New York Times)

THE INFIGHTING. “But even as the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee moved forward with the proposal Wednesday, superdelegates outside of Washington were beginning to organize opposition ahead of the August vote.”

“The resisting superdelegates’ odds of success are long. The proposal has the support of DNC Chairman Tom Perez and two former DNC chairs—former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s 2016 running mate. And the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, following months of discussion, voted without dissent on Wednesday to recommend the plan to full DNC. The proposal was backed by many Clinton supporters, as well.

“But even if the superdelegates fall short in their opposition, controversy surrounding the issue threatens to once again focus national attention on Democratic Party feuding at the height of this year’s midterm elections.” (Politico)

IMPORTANT FACTOR TO NOTE. Some are opposed "to the proposal because superdelegates have historically enjoyed an exclusive level of access to candidates. Some nonwhite members of the party believe such access is necessary to get presidential candidates to consider issues that affect minority groups.

"Michael Blake, a New York assemblyman and vice chairman of the D.N.C., said he was sympathetic to the concerns of superdelegates who are members of minority groups. Regardless, Mr. Blake, who is black, said his concerns were mitigated because superdelegates have not been eliminated completely, and could become vitally important during any second round of votes in the nomination process." (New York Times)

BOOKER AND HARRIS RE: SCOTUS. “Progressives are spoiling for a fight over the Supreme Court, and Democrats' 2020 presidential prospects are eager to lead them into the battle.

“Two senators weighing presidential runs,” Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) “are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold the confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh … President Trump's nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“Already, the two are sharpening their cases against Kavanaugh. Harris will focus on how his confirmation could tip the court's balance against abortion rights and other progressive health care priorities, an aide said. … Booker, according to an aide, will argue that Trump shouldn't appoint a justice while under investigation over his campaign's ties to Russia. And like Harris, he is playing up the stakes of the Supreme Court battle.”

“The confirmation battle could serve, though, as a test run for prospective 2020 candidates to flex their rhetorical muscles and engage with the base in the early stages of the next presidential election.

“Harris, in particular, has won praise from progressives for her sharp questioning of Trump appointees in previous hearings. The former California attorney general is the last member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask questions in hearings. That gives Harris, who prepares extensively for the hearings, an opportunity to identify questions she believes the person testifying hasn't sufficiently answered -- and then pounce, serving as the closer for Democrats.” (CNN)

BOOKER. Booker “has taken his opposition” against Kavanaugh “to a new level, urging the Senate not to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is over. And if that fails, the New Jersey Democrat has said, a Justice Kavanaugh should ‘recuse himself from any matter regarding this president’ that will come before the Supreme Court.

“Booker’s position ... puts the Judiciary Committee member and possible 2020 presidential contender at the leading edge of the progressive resistance to the pick, making him a key player in the escalating partisan warfare over Supreme Court nominees.”

“Before Trump announced his pick, Democrats’ messaging strategy focused on abortion, warning that Kennedy, who upheld core protections found in Roe v. Wade, would be replaced by an antiabortion justice who would undermine that constitutional right. Many Democrats, including Booker, are still hammering on that issue. But Booker has distinguished himself by also claiming that Kavanaugh would provide immunity in any potential legal clash between Mueller and Trump, arguing that Kavanaugh would be Trump’s ‘shield.’ (National Journal)

HARRIS. Meanwhile, in contrast to Booker, Harris said replacing Kennedy is "about the swing vote" seat on the Court: "I would categorize this nomination differently, which is that this is one of the most important positions on the United States Supreme Court, because, of course, replacing Kennedy is about the swing vote on the United States Supreme Court." (PBS)

STEYER. Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer (D) “returned to New Hampshire on Wednesday to continue to press for young progressive activism in the midterm election and to try to build support for his multi-million dollar effort to have Congress impeach” Trump from office. For New Hampshire, Steyer said that “his focus is on voters under the age of 35 ‘to try to increase democracy in the United States.’ They are the largest and most progressive group of voters, yet vote at half the rate of other voters, he said.” (WMUR)

MORE NEW HAMPSHIRE. “After cutting the New Hampshire Democratic Party a $100,000 check earlier this year," the DNC "says it is now following up with a $52,650 grant to the state party for ‘base community organizing.’” (WMUR)

NORTH CAROLINA. The North Carolina Democratic Party "announced a record $5.8 million cash on hand ... at the end of the second quarter before the 2018 General Election season, an unprecedented amount for a midterm election and the party’s third straight record setting fundraising period." (release)

OBAMA’S RANKING. “When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president. More than four-in-ten (44%) say Obama is the best or second best president of their lifetimes, compared with about a third who mention Bill Clinton (33%) or Ronald Reagan (32%).” The results were based on a recent Pew Research Center survey (June 5-12; 2,002 adults). (release)

FACEBOOK. “The top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees said this week that Facebook's relationship with a Russian internet conglomerate warrant further scrutiny.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) “were commenting on a … report published Tuesday detailing how the Mail.Ru Group, a company with ties to the Kremlin, developed applications that allowed it to gather data on Facebook users without their explicit knowledge.” (CNN)

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