Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iowa State Convention: Conflict, or Kum Bah Yah?

Iowa Democratic State Convention: Conflict, or Kum Bah Yah?

Braley To Endorse Obama

Iowa has been back in the presidential spotlight the last few days, with Saturday’s congressional district conventions and Barack Obama endorsements by superdelegates Richard Machacek and, today, Congressman Bruce Braley. The state’s next moment in the spotlight, the June 14 state convention, could be one of the final major battles in the nomination fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton – or it could be Kum Bah Yah time.

With the last primaries scheduled on June 3, and Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe saying the nomination will wrap up by June 15, the state convention could see a fight to the death battle for 11 national delegates. But if, say, Hillary Clinton leaves the race on something like Thursday the 13th, the convention on Saturday the 15th could be the first opportunity for Democrats anywhere to begin the reuniting process.

State Convention, Des Moines, June 14
State Delegates2500
At Large National Delegates10
 State DelegatesNational Delegates

As the math stands now, Obama would win five at-large national delegates, Clinton would gain three. John Edwards, viable on his own without help from another campaign, would get two. There is no scenario in which a candidate picks up only one delegate; the point of rounding up to one delegate is well below the 15 percent minimum for viability.

The state convention will also elected six pledged party leader and elected official delegates, which should break down as Obama 3, Clinton 2, and Edwards 1. There is also one add-on delegate, named by neutral state party chair Scott Brennan and ratified by the convention. The add-on delegate would need to be acceptable to the Obama campaign, since he controls more than 50 percent of the convention.

For Edwards to lose viability, he would have to lose 50 people at the state convention. The former candidate lost almost no one at last weekend's congressional district conventions, except in the 4th District where he was not viable.

All this assumes that everyone shows up and that no one switches preference. That’s pretty close to what happened last weekend. All or nearly all of the 2,500 seats at the five districts were filled. There were small shifts to Edwards from Clinton in the 1st District and from Obama in the 5th District, to make or keep Edwards viable. He was on the bubble of viability in both places.

In the 4th District, where Edwards was well short of viable, a deal between Clinton and Edwards to make Edwards viable failed when Clinton supporters insisted that the Edwards national delegate be chosen from among the Clinton supporters who would have switched over. The Edwards group refused that deal, and most of them joined Obama. In the other four districts, the Edwards supporters stayed steadfast.

As for Iowa’s superdelegates, two remain up for grabs: party chair Scott Brennan and Senator Tom Harkin. Harkin recommitted to staying neutral last weekend.

In addition to Machacek and Braley, Obama is backed by superdelegates Governor Chet Culver, Congressman Dave Loebsack, state treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, and state party vice chair Sarah Swisher. Clinton is supported by Congressman Leonard Boswell, state senate majority leader Mike Gronstal, and DNC member Sandy Opstvedt.

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