Jackson To Woo ‘Super Delegates’ As Tight Nomination Race Looms
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Jesse Jackson’s campaign is planning an intense effort to woo Democratic ″super delegates″ as the likelihood increases that they will determine the party’s nominee.
Jackson aides say the campaign also is planning to seek new money and hire an advance team, a staple of the other candidates’ campaigns. And they said that as scrutiny of Jackson increases, the press and public can expect to see him offering more details and specifics of his various domestic and foreign policy ideas.
In two days of meetings here this week, Jackson met with his top financial organizers and with prominent Democratic leaders whom he hoped to pull into his camp, or at least milk for advice.
His campaign manager, Gerald Austin, said there will be a concerted plan to court super delegates, the 643 people who are automatically Democratic convention delegates by virtue of their status as party or elected officials.
They are viewed as critical in this year’s campaign, since it appears no candidate by the end of the primary season will have the 2,081 delegates needed to lock up the nomination. The decision could rest with the super delegates at the summer nominating convention in Atlanta.
So far, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis has gained the most support from established paty leaders. Jackson, who has a slight lead in the popular vote cast so far, has said the super delegates should ″respect the super voters″ and back whoever has the most votes after the last primaries on June 7.
Austin said the campaign will be phoning the super delegates and mailing them information on what Jackson has accomplished and soliciting their support.
In addition, Jackson’s supporters in Congress, particularly members of the congressional Black Caucus, will contact super delegates, said Rep. Mickey Leland, D-Texas.
″The front line is the congressional Black Caucus ... to talk to our colleagues in our states, to lobby people who are super delegates,″ he said.
In fund-raising, Jackson’s fortunes have grown steadily from a shoestring budget to a $1-million month in March, the biggest single fund-raising month of the campaign.
Campaign aides said that since the March 8 Super Tuesday series of primaries in 20 states, unsolicited donations have increased dramatically, augmented by an active direct-mail program.
″The phones are ringing in Chicago″ at campaign headquarters, said Austin. ″People want to get involved - to do fund raisers in states we’ve already contested.″
Campaign chairman Willie Brown, the speaker of the California Assembly, said the campaign has raised $1 million in California alone. He said plans are to continue to increase the pace through a series of fund-raising techniques and events.
Jackson, however, spends the money as fast as it comes in and still lags far behind the big warchest of Democratic money leader Dukakis, who generally has cash on hand of $3 or $4 million, according to financial reports.
Leland said the campaign hopes to raise at least $3 million for television alone between now and the end of the primary season.
″We’re going to scorch the earth,″ Leland said.
Jackson will air TV ads in every upcoming state, but will not conduct the kind of saturation media effort that other candidates have used, Austin said.
″We’re showing you can win elections without spending the kind of money these guys spend,″ he said.
Austin said he is interviewing potential candidates to come on board for advance work, in anticipation of more organization in upcoming state primaries and caucuses.
But he said that overall he does not anticipate expanding the campaign staff of some 90 people, at least for now.
″We’re just winning. We’re going to continue to do what we’ve done so far,″ he said.
Campaign aides said Jackson has no plan to change his basic message or his ″economic justice″ theme. But political director Frank Watkins said there may be a few new issues coming out.
″We’ve got a few in the hopper,″ he said.
In addition, Jackson is ready to offer more details and specifics of the various programs and ideas he proposes, aides said.
Watkins said the overall campaign operation has been working well state-to- state, with the campaign tapping into existing constituent organizations to serve as the underpinning for the Jackson operation.
″We know who to look for when we go in there - Hispanic groups, women’s groups, blacks, workers, farmers, environmentalists, students,″ Watkins said.
Part of the Jackson strategy, he acknowledged, is to refrain from public predictions on how Jackson will run in a given contest.
″We were convinced we could win it from the beginning but weren’t anxious to wake anybody up,″ he said.
Jackson leads in the popular vote total of states that have voted so far, and is running a close second to Dukakis in the delegate count.