Faithless Elector Watch: Dangling Democrat?

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Nov. 20 2000 5:33 PM

Faithless Elector Watch: Dangling Democrat?

Chatterbox has some good news and some bad news for Bob Beckel, the Democratic consultant who last week told the Wall Street Journalthat he's collecting information on Republican electors with an eye to persuading them to switch their vote to Gore. (Beckel says he's acting independently of the Gore campaign and says that even if Gore tells him to knock it off he won't.) The good news is that there's an elector who's willing to say out loud and in a totally noncoy way that she's actively considering not casting her vote for her candidate. The bad news is ... she's a Democrat!

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The Democratic elector is Barbara Lett Simmons, a former member of the Board of Education in (and current Democratic National Committee member for) the District of Columbia, which went for Gore. Simmons has told the Washington Post and Newsday that she's considering withholding her vote to protest the fact that D.C. has no voting rights in Congress. (D.C. has no senators, and its representative in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, is called a "delegate" and is allowed to vote only in committee.) Simmons assured the Post and Newsday that she will not withhold her vote if she thinks Gore needs it. "I would never do anything that would cause George Bush to have the presidency," she told Chatterbox. She explained that she's following developments closely and expects that by Dec. 18, when the electors meet in the various state capitals, it will be "pretty clear" whether a gesture for D.C. statehood might risk throwing the election to Bush. Chatterbox, though, isn't so sure: The intentions of electors are very difficult to track with any precision (though Chatterbox is making every effort). They keep slamming their phones down on reporters!

Incidentally, Chatterbox has not yet been tipped off as to who among prominent Republicans is working as Beckel's opposite number. Chatterbox continues to believe someone is and possibly more than one someone. So why hasn't Chatterbox fingered this person yet? Not, Chatterbox believes, because Republicans have any greater respect for the traditions of the Electoral College than the Democrats do. Rather, Chatterbox thinks the GOP is better at keeping its collective yap shut. Anyway, Chatterbox renews his request for tips on who the Republican Bob Beckel (or Beckels) may be. Please send your leads to chatterbox@slate.com.