Would Spitzer Lose His Superdelegate Vote?

A campaign blog.
March 10 2008 4:51 PM

Would Spitzer Lose His Superdelegate Vote?

Gov. Eliot Spitzer apologized to his family and the people of New York today after the New York Times linked him with a prostitution ring. If Spitzer resigns, does he lose his status as a superdelegate?

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Yes. Governors are automatically given a vote at the Democratic National Convention in August, but the moment Spitzer resigns, he gives up that vote to the next governor. The New York State Constitution says that if a governor leaves office early, the lieutenant governor—in this case, Lt. Gov. David Paterson —takes over for the rest of the term. Like Spitzer, Paterson has thrown his weight behind Hillary Clinton.

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The thing is, Paterson is already a superdelegate . As a member of the DNC, he was selected as one of the party’s at-large delegates. That leaves two scenarios: If he takes over as governor and gives up his DNC member status, the party will hand if off to someone else, preserving the total superdelegate number at 795 . But if he decides to hold on to the DNC vote, the overall number of superdelegates would drop to 794. In other words, Paterson can’t vote twice. There’s a twist, though: If the DNC wanted, it could always give Paterson’s at-large vote to Spitzer, thus maintaining the equilibrium. But odds are the Dems don’t want the controversy mucking up their convention. (Rest assured Larry Craig will be far from Minneapolis during the RNC.)

Will this affect Clinton's delegate count? Not much, if at all. If Paterson does keep his DNC status and the delegate count drops, Clinton will lose one superdelegate. But if Paterson throws it back to the party, they’ll probably pick another person who supports Hillary. (Of the 43 New York superdelegates who endorsed, 42 went Clinton.) If anything, Clinton should be more worried about having his support than not having it. Spitzer has been an enthusiastic supporter, pushing for her on The Colbert Report and volunteering to stump for her in Ohio. Clinton upbraided Obama in a debate for hesitating to "reject" the praise of Louis Farrakhan. Obama could always ask Clinton to do the same for Spitzer.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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