What's up with Edwards' delegates
by msn1, Wed Jan 30, 2008 at 06:59:33 PM EST
With Edwards dropping out, one question is, what happens to his delegates? Let's take a look:
First, according to 2008 Democratic Convention Watch, Edwards had 27 public superdelegate endorsements. CNN had (actually, still has) it at 36. Doesn't matter. They're all now available. A superdelegate endorsement can change at any time anyway, so Edwards superdelegates are free to support anyone.
Now, on to his pledged delegates. Edwards won 4 delegates in New Hampshire, 14 in Iowa, and 8 in South Carolina. The New Hampshire delegates have been already chosen, so he "keeps" them. Who they end up voting for at the convention is another matter.
In Iowa, Edwards received 14 delegates, but they were split. 5 were state-level delegates, and 9 were Congressional District (CD)-level delegates. The CD-level delegates are basically history. First, there are county conventions, and then CD conventions. Since Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold at the county conventions, he won't have any representation at the CD conventions, and won't get any CD-level delegates. Where they go at this point is impossible to say.
But he will "keep" his 5 state-level delegates. By keep, what I mean is that his campaign gets to choose the 5 delegates. As noted in the comments, the state-level delegates are chosen in the state convention, and as Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold, he won't get any state-level delegates either.
South Carolina is more complicated. But reading the South Carolina Delegate Selection Plan, they essentially have a convention system similar to Iowa's, except the final number of delegates selected for each candidate has to match the numbers out of the primary. There's no mention of a candidate "releasing" his delegates, so for now, I'll assume Edwards gets to name his 8 delegates, but, I think we need a South Carolina expert to weigh in on this. (Again, who they end up voting for at the convention is another matter).
Remember a couple of things. There is no first-ballot "vote for your candidate" rule at the Democratic Convention. Technically, any delegate is free to vote for any candidate on any ballot. (There may be state rules mandating a vote - we're still looking into that). Therefore, there is no such thing as a "legal" release of delegates. There is a political "release" - almost all delegates will vote for their candidate unless their candidate tells them they don't have to. But from a Rules point of view, a "release" of delegates mean nothing.
And therefore, it doesn't matter whether Edwards "ended" his campaign or "suspended" it as far as his delegates go. My guess is he will tell any delegates he has left that they can vote for who they want, or he could endorse someone and tell his delegates to vote for that person. But it doesn't matter from a rules point of view. They can vote for anybody at any time anyway, regardless of what Edwards did or say today or does in the future. - Matt