THE BLOG

Some Super-delegates Are Using Their Noggins

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET

Earlier this week, I suggested that, rather than debate the often vague criteria that should drive a super-delegate's decision on who to support in the Democratic nomination, the uncommitted super-delegates should actually seek a clarification on where candidates stood on issues. I chose trade because I consider that to be the single-most important economic issue. And I suggested that Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcy Kaptur were uniquely positioned to push the issue of trade given their terrific leadership on the topic over the years.

Well, Brown and Kaptur are doing just that, according to a story on Politico the other day:

Flexing their new power to determine the Democratic presidential nomination, a bloc of Ohio superdelegates is withholding endorsements from Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton until one or the other offers a concrete proposal to protect American jobs, two Ohio Democrats told Politico Wednesday.

The apparent deal among Ohioans is the first evidence of superdelegates' banding together and seeking concessions from the presidential candidates in return for votes at the convention. It's a practice that could become more common after Clinton's victories in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday put her back on solid footing in her race against Obama and ensured that the battle for superdelegates will continue for many weeks to come.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, one of the leading protectionists in Congress, said Ohioans have many suggestions on economic and trade issues they hoped the candidates would address.

"We have a laundry list of measures we think would be effective, some involving tax policy, some involving investment policy, intellectual property incentives to hold investments in this country," Kaptur said. "I'm hoping superdelegates [who] are uncommitted that have the economy as their major concern will gravitate to our group and use that power to gain additional attention."

Good for them. To say quickly, I am not suggesting any connection between my post and their action. Actually, I thought my post was an obvious, modest proposal that was a no-brainer. I was particularly moved to write that super-delegates actually focus on issues because, until now, I've been, to put it mildly, pretty unimpressed by the arguments about how the super-delegates should vote (either to "reflect the will of the people" or "choose the most electable candidate").

So, rather than make a plea for something vague like "the will of the people" (in a process which is so flawed and, in some cases, anti-democratic that it just boggles the mind) or "choose the most electable candidate" (as if in March anyone can really tell how this election will play out in the Fall), I'm hoping that voters encourage super-delegates to demand from candidate's some very specific commitments (not based on "hope" or "experience") on real issues.

Yeah, good luck.