City Desk

Clinton Snags Unlikely D.C. Delegate Slot

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).

Delegate Potpourri

  • 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

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  • Michael J. West

    How many superdelegates does the district have? The two PLEOs are Obama, as is one add-on delegate; the other is Clinton. That's 3 out of 4 for Obama, which seems about right. Are there more than 4, though?

  • KCinDC

    Michael, the PLEOs are not superdelegates. They're pledged. DC has 15 pledged delegates and 24 unpledged delegates (superdelegates). There are lots of superdelegates because lots of DNC members happen to live in DC, and lots of those are Clinton supporters. You can see the list here.

  • Mike Panetta

    From what I hear Harry is actually supporting Obama now, but I haven't seen anything public. You may want to follow up with his office and get something quotable on that.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Well, Mike, the quote above from Thomas---"I haven't changed"---is from last night. Are you saying he's changed his mind in the last 12 hours?

  • John Capozzi

    The vote totals are difficult to understand, since each State Committee member could vote for 2 people. I hope that the blog will feature how each member of the Committee voted and the total number of State Committee members who voted. This would make the results clearer.

  • Bubba

    Harry Thomas, Jr is a horrible councilmember. I lived in Ward 5 last year and tried to contact his office many times through phone and email about problems with non-compliance with recycling laws, garbage on the streets and the uselessness of the street sweepers (they would drive around without even putting the bristles down). I never once was able to talk to anyone or even get a response that they received my emails or phone calls or anything. He's useless and it is no surprise to me that he commited this stunt.

    Miriam Sapiro is or was, not sure if she retired or left or is still there, a lawyer at the State Department. She has also been an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown Law. I took a class from her last year.

  • MaryAnn Miller

    Mike I don't know where you got your information from, you are absolutely wrong. I am not and have never been a Clinton supporter. You were duped by some liars involved in labeling me as such in order to undermine my campaign. If you care to check your facts, you will find that i have been contributing to Obama for President for many, many months--i just never publicly announced my support because as the CoChair of the of the DCDSC Pre-Primary Caucus and other DCDSC activities I was required to remain nuetral. I am proud to have been an Obama supporter and i'm very aware of the fact that he won over 75% of the vote in DC. It was a resounding victory!
    He carried every Ward and every precinct in the District. The turnout in Ward 3 was 51.59% the highest in the City. 62% of Ward 3 voted overwhelmingly in support of Senator Barack Obama to Senator Clinton's 36%. I was most definitely one of the 62%.
    MaryAnn Miller

  • Mike DeBonis

    My apologies, MaryAnn. I relied on a source I should have double checked. I have fixed it.

  • Mike Panetta

    Your quote from Harry is correct from Thursday, my comment is based upon a conversation I had with one of his staffers two days before (on Tuesday) that he had "heard from his constituents" and was now supporting Obama. It's mixed signals and that's causing some confusion.

  • MaryAnn Miller

    Below is the email i received from Mike after the posting above.


    I apologize sincerely. I relied on a source that I usually trust to be correct. That is no excuse for not double checking with you. I have corrected the posting.

    Mike DeBonis

  • jakester

    Well, as Hillary likes to say, it's not too late for any delegate, super or otherwise, to change his or her mind! Hopefully that happens with Mr. Thomas...

    MaryAnn, sorry it wasn't you! Glad you corrected the record...