Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
The role of superdelegates in the Democratic presidential nomination is a grave injustice. No, not because the superdelegates are unelected party bigwigs bent on subverting the will of the voters and tearing the party asunder.
No, the real problem is that the supers are unelected party leaders who disproportionately represent the federal government.
Many superdelegates are elected officials (they're just unelected in their role as superdelegates). Those supers include every no-name, backbench member of Congress who happens to be a Democrat. State governors get to be delegates, but they're outnumbered 10-1 by members of Congress.
State party officials are represented, so that gives the states a bit more of a say. But the group that's really left out is big city mayors.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Houston Mayor Bill White lead cities of more than 2 million people. All are Democrats (though White serves in a nominally non-partisan position). Villaraigosa and White very well may be the Democratic standard bearers for governor of California and Texas, respectively, in 2010. These people aren't important enough to have a vote?
In fact, virtually no mayors get a vote.
The Democratic superdelegate rules are emblematic of the lack of attention that the national political parties pay to mayors. Even governors races seem to get vastly more attention than mayoral contests (Counties? Forget about it.). That indifference ignores the critical role that big city mayors play in policymaking and in politics.
If it's of any solace: Local government is probably better off without the attention.
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