Super Delegates Give Dukakis Most Of His Lead Over Jackson
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic Party leaders and politicians whose support as ″super delegates″ could prove crucial in winning the presidential nomination are giving Michael Dukakis nearly half of the 101-delegate lead he holds over rival Jesse Jackson.
Were it not for the support of these delegates, who are going to the Democratic National Convention because of offices they currently or formerly held, Dukakis would be ahead of Jackson by fewer than 44 delegate votes, according to a survey by The Associated Press.
Until today’s gain of 52 previously uncommitted delegates in Puerto Rico, Dukakis held but a narrow lead over Jackson without the support of the party leaders and politicians.
Dukakis has 816.15 delegates overall including 72.5 votes from super delegates. He has gained 24 of those super delegates over the last month, including nine members of the Senate nominated this week to attend the party’s convention.
By comparison, Jackson is supported by none of the 32 senators nominated this week. He has 715.1 delegates overall, including 30.1 super delegates, a gain of 11 over the last month.
Sens. Albert Gore of Tennessee and Paul Simon of Illinois, whose own presidential campaigns are lagging far behind those of Dukakis and Jackson, were nominated by their Senate colleagues to be convention delegates. Gore picked up an additional four Senate delegates, while Simon gained two.
The nominations were made in a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats on Tuesday. A list of the nominees was obtained by the AP.
Still, 268.25 super delegates, most of those chosen so far, remain uncommitted, some saying they believe they have an obligation to defer making a choice and others saying they just can’t make up their minds. Sixteen of the senators named so far are uncommitted.
″It looks wide open,″ said LarryAnn Willis, a delegate from Oregon. ″I’m not convinced that any of the three candidates still in the field are who we should go with.″
Others are waiting for local party leaders to make a decision so they can follow suit. Leo O’Brien, a delegate from New York who is party chairman in Albany County, said he put off picking a candidate until Gov. Mario Cuomo endorsed a hopeful.
Then Cuomo said last week he would not endorse anyone until the primaries and caucuses are over in June.
″I waited for Mario, and now I’m left holding the bag,″ O’Brien said.
In all 4,164 votes are to be cast at the national convention July 18-21 in Atlanta, and 2,083 are needed to win the nomination.
The super delegates from the House and Senate will be among as many as 646 party leaders, governors and others who will be national convention delegates. Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson warned that the super delegates should not be used to thwart Jesse Jackson’s candidacy.
″I think the Democratic Party must avoid at all costs even the perception that it is acting in any way to deny that which Jesse Jackson has won fair and square,″ he said.
Gore, who is running a distant third in the overall delegate count with 404.55, has the support of 33.55 super delegates, 10 of whom have become supporters in the last month.
Simon, who suspended active campaigning after his single-digit, fourth- place finish in Wisconsin, has picked up three super delegates over the past month, raising his overall total to 171.5, including 18.5 super delegates.
The Simon campaign has been urging super delegates to stay uncommitted, according to George Miller, a delegate from Texas who said campaign officials told him ″worse things could happen than a brokered convention.″
While the campaigns have been trying to win over super delegates, at least one says he’s been overlooked: James Jones, a former state senator from Virginia.
″I don’t get no respect, even if I am a super delegate,″ he said. ″It’s amazing that no one has called, but I think it shows the extent to which the national campaigns are stretched thin.″