San Antonian At The Center Of The National Super Delegate Debate | Texas Public Radio

San Antonian At The Center Of The National Super Delegate Debate

Jun 14, 2016

This week NPR and Texas Public Radio 89.1 are tackling the question: "Does my vote matter in electing our next president?"

Among Democrats, one of the disputes that’s emerged is over the inclusion of super delegates. 

Former Texas Sen.  Leticia Van de Putte will play a key role in addressing the super delegate debate at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month.

Fifteen percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention will not be beholden to the voters’ choice in their state.  Those super delegates are usually party heavyweights or public officials.  They can cast their ballots for the presidential candidates they like.

While Hillary Clinton no longer needs super delegates to clinch the nomination, that wasn’t always so clear.  Opponent Bernie Sanders clearly thought including super delegates put him at a disadvantage.

“Over 400 of these super delegates indicated their support for Secretary Clinton before anyone else was in the race. In other words, the establishment determined who the anointed candidate would be before the first voters got into the process," Sanders told a crowd of supporters at a televised event in February.  He’s repeated that same message many times during the campaign.  

Whether Democrats should  keep, change or scrap the super delegate process will be hotly disputed in Philadelphia.  Sanders has promised: “It’s an idea we intend to change at the convention.”

Former Texas Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will be at the center of the argument which is already underway.  She’s the co-chair of the national Party’s rules committee which will decide what to do.

“Yes, there will be a big discussion,” Van de Putte said.  “People are passionate about their views and I am so thankful that they are. They will vigorously and ardently debate what they view is the right process.  And if they can convince a majority of the folk on the committee, then we'll take the vote and it'll get changed.”

Van de Putte is an ardent Clinton supporter, but she’s promised to listen to everyone. However, she thinks the general public sometimes forgets how the nomination process works.

“Each party -- Republican, Democrat, Green, Independent, Libertarian -- has its own rules and processes for selecting their nominees. This is not the people's nominee. It's the Democratic Party nominee.  So that when Barack Obama accepted the nomination at Invesco Field in Denver, he didn't accept the people's nomination.  He accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party. You accept the people's nomination on Inauguration Day,” Van de Putte said.

To that end Van de Putte says the Party has an interest in choosing a candidate that represents its values.  In a close race, super delegates could block the nomination of a candidate who doesn’t adopt a party’s core principals.  She says that hasn’t happened, but she points to the division between Donald Trump and many in the Republican Party, which doesn’t have super delegates, as something to consider.

“This year the Republicans find themselves with a nominee who has not embraced core Republican values.”  

Van de Putte says most Democrats she knows don’t want to see their party in that kind of a situation.  Including super delegates may be one way to protect long-standing Party ideals.