At Big Sky Meeting Tennessee Governor Pitches Superdelegate Primary

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen says his proposal for a superdelegate primary received a warm reception from fellow Democratic governors meeting this weekend in Montana.

Bredesen has proposed a two-day superdelegate primary for June after the last voter primary, in hopes that the party can pick its nominee early and avoid a bitter summer fight between U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I think there were some very broad feelings (among the governros) that we need to find a way to bring this to closure,” Bredesen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Sunday.

About a dozen Democratic governors gathered at the Big Sky ski resort Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a policy conference sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association on energy and health care.

Bredesen, who is also policy chairman of the DGA, said he did not advance a specific resolution or seek commitments from the governors. But Bredesen said he hopes to gather support among all superdelegates, including the governros, in order to convince the Democratic National Committee to champion the cause.

“I personally think the DNC has to pick up the ball here,” Bredesen said. “I think absent the DNC calling for it to happen and organizing it, it might be very flat.”

The DNC has previously said that it does not support the idea. A spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment Sunday.

Some superdelates, including Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, have yet to back either candidate and are hoping the nomination will be settled by June — without the need for a superdelegate primary.

“That may not even be necessary. Let’s see how things shake out,” said Schweitzer, who is waiting to endorse a candidate until after Montana voters have their say in the state’s June 3 primary.

Bredesen agreed it is possible the contest could come to an end with one of the candidates dropping out. But if that doesn’t happen, he said the party needs to have a plan so that superdelegates make their picks well in advance of the August nominating convention.

Obama leads Clinton among delegates whose vote was determined by primaries or caucuses, 1,620 to 1,249. But neither is on track to win enough in primaries and caucuses for the nomination, so superdelegates could decide the winner. Clinton leads among superdelegates who have announced a choice.

Superdelegates are elected officials and leaders who by Democratic Party rules are free to support the candidate of their choice. Bredesen said he will continue to publicly argue his case for primary where the superdelegates come together to make their picks, adding he will call on more governors and superdelegates to drum up support for the idea.

“I think people think it is a commonsense approach,” Bredesen said.

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