In a town where Barack Obama got better than 75 percent of the vote, this wasn’t supposed to happen. But it did anyway: Hillary Clinton picked up an extra District delegate to the Democratic National Convention last night. For that, Obama supporters have only their own to blame.
The D.C. Democratic State Committee met in the John A. Wilson Building for almost three hours to select a pair of unpledged add-on “superdelegates.” More than 20 signed up to run for the two slots, voted on by the 80-odd members of the committee. “Unpledged” in this case is a bit misleading; most delegate candidates’ presidential preferences were already widely known to voters.
The days and weeks before the vote saw furious lobbying of the 80-some committee members—-especially on the Obama side—-to sway votes to their presidential candidate. Obama organizers hoped to prevent a split vote by steering support to two delegate candidates: Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, a longtime state committee member and favorite of the old guard, and lawyer Miriam Sapiro, a relative unknown favored by the grassroots types.
Though a number of the 25 candidates on the ballot withdrew before the vote, seven Obama supporters ended up running, while
only two Clinton supporters only three Clinton supporters only two Clinton supporters stood: Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 3 resident Mary Ann Miller, and lawyer and ex-council staffer Aimee Occhetti.
Clinton’s name never came up in Thomas’ brief remarks before the vote; he instead chose to talk up his own qualifications and big-picture issues. “The issue is what are we going to do when we get to Denver that best represents the District of Columbia,” he said. (Rumors had swirled that Thomas planned to switch to Obama, but Thomas knocked those down after the vote: “I haven’t changed,” he says. “I’m consistent.”)
The actual candidates’ names rarely came up, in fact. The division within the Obama camp was briefly aired when candidate Linda Nguyen rose to say, “I only have 2 minutes to convince you to vote for me…not someone you promised the mayor you’d vote for.” That earned her hearty boos from the crowd. (Line of the night, though, came from Occhetti: “If you call me at 3 a.m., I will definitely try to answer the phone.”)
In the end, Alexander cruised to victory, but Sapiro came up two votes short; she got 22 to Thomas’ 24. Check after the jump for a full tally of the results (i.e., which Obama folks didn’t get with the program).
- Unsurprisingly, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown took the two spots reserved for PLEOs—-party leaders and elected officials. Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta appeared on the original ballot but withdrew before the vote. In remarks after the vote, Gray said, “My life’s aspiration has been to be a PLEO. I’ve finally arrived!” Panetta says he plans to run for an alternate pledged at-large spot set to be selected on May 3. Barring that, committee chair Anita Bonds announced to the crowd that Panetta would be serving as the delegation’s Official Blogger in Denver. Says Panetta: “One way or another, I’ll be there.”
- Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans showed early in the meeting to greet the crowd but quickly left. Since the decision came down that both PLEOs were to be Obama-pledged, Evans did not appear on the ballot. Gray announced after voting that Evans would be running at the May 3 meeting for a pledged at-large slot for Clinton; Gray lobbied the crowd on Evans’ behalf.
D.C. At-Large Unpledged Delegate Tally
Yvette Alexander (Obama) 31
Jim Bubar (undeclared) 8
Wylie Chen (Obama) 4
Donna Ellis (Obama) 7
Amanda Hatcher Lyon (Obama) 4
MaryAnn Miller (
Clinton Obama) 12
Linda Nguyen (Obama) 2
Aimee Occhetti (Clinton) 6
Miriam Sapiro (Obama) 22
Hope Tucker Stewart (Obama) 16
Harry Thomas Jr. (Clinton) 24