"How to un-break the primaries

The process is a mess. We asked 10 experts why — and what they’d do about it."

--Washington Post -- February 28, 2020

Superdelegate section by Selina Vickers was a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She is a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates, in District 32.

Superdelegates” had some of their power stripped from them after the contentious 2016 Democratic primary contest. Now it’s time to finish the job: They ought to be neutered entirely.

Superdelegates debuted at the 1984 Democratic convention, after the party reworked its rules to respond to President Jimmy Carter’s calamitous defeat in 1980. The idea was that these special delegates — typically politicians and senior party officials — wouldn’t be bound by the decisions of state primary voters and caucusers: They could throw their weight behind whichever candidate they thought would perform best in the general election. This year, there are 771 superdelegate votes and 3,979 pledged delegates (who are committed to a candidate but have the right to change their votes). The problem is that there can be a chasm between the judgments of party insiders and the grass roots about which candidates are most electable.

Superdelegates overwhelmingly went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, for example. Although she also defeated Bernie Sanders in the pledged-delegate count, the superdelegates were listed in news stories tracking the election along with pledged delegates; that produced the illusion that Clinton had amassed more delegates than she truly had (since superdelegates can and do change their votes at the convention based on primary outcomes). The false impression that a Clinton victory was inevitable may even have discouraged Sanders supporters from turning out in late-voting states.

After that, the rules were changed, and superdelegates will not be permitted to vote on the first presidential nominating ballot this year. That’s an improvement, but consider that the convention itself could change that rule, reverting to letting superdelegates vote on the first ballot. Worse, superdelegates themselves could take part in such a vote. It would not surprise some of us if establishment Democrats tried to restore the old rule, or manipulated the interpretation of the rules, to block a Sanders nomination. Doing so would tear the party apart, perhaps irreparably.

A certain number of elected party leaders could retain the title of “automatic” delegates, but they should not have a “free” or “wild card” vote at any stage. Instead, they should pledge to a candidate before their state’s primary or caucuses. If their candidates don’t earn votes at the state level, they wouldn’t have a say — so they couldn’t interfere in the democratic selection of a nominee.

Even in their weakened form, superdelegates are super-problematic. There is nothing preventing a financial or pharmaceutical corporation from lobbying them to use their votes to nominate a particular candidate, for instance. Sometimes, Democratic National Committee members defend superdelegates by observing that they are responsive to public opinion: They will switch from an “establishment” to an “insurgent” candidate if the insurgent is winning (as they did with Barack Obama in 2008). But what’s the point of having delegates with such power if they are permitted to flip their votes to make sure they are on the winning side? Much better to just ditch them.

 

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"Candidate Training Promotes Support System" -- The Register-Herald

Jordan Nelson - August 17, 2019

Danielle Harris ran for Oak Hill City Council this year and lost by four votes; she's pushing through and planning to run again. 

The elementary teacher for Fayette County Schools attended a candidate training Saturday in Oak Hill hosted by Stephen Smith, a candidate for governor. She was there to support her friend Selina Vickers, who ran for the House of Delegates in 2018 to represent Fayette County, and although she did not win the race, she's making moves to run again, much like her friend Harris. 

 

"The public school system still needs funding for mental health services," Harris shared with The Register-Herald. "I am pro-public school all around, and that's why I am here in full support with Selina, because so is she." 

Harris recalled when teachers conducted a statewide walk-out in 2018, the first since 1990. She said Vickers was one of the few people to approach her to discuss what teachers really need and why they were fighting so hard. 

Vickers asked Harris what the problems were in the education system and showed she truly cared, Harris said. 

"I've been in full support of her ever since," Harris said. "So, we both wanted to come here today, just to see what we could learn.

"She's inspired me. She's an activist for women's rights, education, and money transparency, and she's just an all-around change maker. So today we're here to learn ways not only she can be a better candidate, but I'm here to be a part of her campaign."

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"Bernie Sanders supporter attends every DNC rule-change meeting. DNC member calls her a Russian plant" -- Washington Post

David Weigel -  June 12, 2018

Selina Vickers’s weekend trip to Rhode Island was as cheap as she could make it. She shelled out $143.60 for a plane ticket from West Virginia to Providence, where the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws group was meeting.

She paid $68.07 for an Airbnb in Cranston, a short commute from Providence. Once there, Vickers did what she always did at DNC meetings — she took notes, recorded video and made sure that the party was committing to overhaul its primary rules."

A few days later, Vickers was accused of being a Russia-backed agent of chaos, working to destabilize the Democratic Party from within

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