PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Efforts by Bernie Sanders supporters to eliminate or reduce the influence of superdelegates failed at a meeting of the Democratic National Convention rules committee Saturday.
At the gathering in a Philadelphia conference room Saturday, an amendment to get rid of superdelegates — party insiders who can vote for the candidate of their choice at the convention — was defeated, as were a number of efforts to limit the power of super delegates. The proposals did win enough support to potentially move on to the convention floor for votes next week, though compromise plans were still being discussed by the Democratic campaigns.
Discussing the proposal to eliminate superdelegates, Aaron Regunberg, a Sanders delegate and a Rhode Island lawmaker, argued that the current system does not “reflect our core values.” But Clinton supporters argued that the superdelegate system brings more people into the political process and instead called for a more extensive review of the nominating process.
As the various amendments were voted down, Sanders supporters in the back of the hall expressed their frustration, shouting: “Shame … shame … shame!”
Sanders has been critical of superdelegates during his contentious primary fight with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His supporters argue Clinton’s substantial superdelegate lead may have influenced the outcome of the race, although Clinton also led Sanders with pledged delegates. Late in the race, Sanders sought to flip superdelegates with little success.
There are 713 superdelegates, mainly members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee. Clinton leads Sanders with superdelegates 602 to 48. Combining pledged delegates and superdelegates, Clinton leads 2,807 to 1,894.
A collection of liberal organizations and Sanders backers held a news conference in Philadelphia before the hearing, stressing their opposition to superdelegates. Supporters crowded the conference room where the hearing was held, with more people packed in an outside hallway, cheering and chanting.
With the convention just days away, the hearing was one of the last opportunities for Sanders’ supporters to push their agenda. The party platform debate concluded recently with a draft document that included many of Sanders’ priorities, including proposals for a $15 federal minimum wage, abolition of the death penalty and steps to break up large Wall Street banks.
The hearing came as the Democratic Party tries to unify for the general election after an acrimonious primary. But the recent release of hacked DNC emails, detailing the split between the DNC and Sanders, may slow that process.