Illinois key in history of super delegates

March 12, 2008 6:44:14 AM PDT
This incredibly tight nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will ultimately be decided by the 800 or so Democratic Party officials known as super delegates. You might be interested to know that super delegates came about after years of chaos involving politicians from right here in Chicago.

The mayor of Chicago, Rich Daley, and the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, Al From, remember those days all too well, even though it's nearly 40 years ago.

Daley's father, Richard J., battled party activists inside the 1968 Democratic Convention over who to nominate for president while the mayor's police department battled anti-war demonstrators on the streets of Chicago.

And then four years later at the convention in Miami, the Illinois delegation, led by Jesse Jackson, staged a successful revolt against the nomination of the candidate who won the Illinois primary.

"It showed how the rules can flip around, and they can change it. And I think it does a great disservice to the American public," said Daley.

The chaos and the losses in those elections prompted the Democratic Party, including Al From, to create the concept of super delegates so elected and appointed Democratic politicians would have the final say in settling a a complicated nomination battle like the one that's going on now.

"You have two very different theories about what would make the strongest candidate in the fall. And people who govern and have to face election ought to be in a position to make that decision," said From.

Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanual, who worked in the Clinton White House and is now a friend of Barack Obama, is one the only uncommitted super elegates in Illinois, and he said cide who to support at the end of the primary season.

"The voters will make this choice And the super elegates will follow the voters. That's just my view," said Emanuel.

Emanuel has said, only half in jest, that he's been hiding under his desk in Washington to keep from talking about whether he prefers Clinton or Obama. But he will ultimately have to make that decision along with the rest of the super delegates probably sometime after all the primaries are over in June.