Bredesen proposes superdelegate primary

Hank Hayes • Apr 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The thought of Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton spending the summer “shooting bullets at each other on issues” puts either of them in a terrible position to win the White House, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen told reporters after his talk to the Johnson City Rotary Club Tuesday.

“Ninety days ago, everybody was saying ‘We’ve got two great candidates and isn’t it a great time to be a Democrat.’ That’s changed. ... There are very hard feelings out there,” said Bredesen, a Democrat who has proposed a two-day June superdelegate primary after the last voter primary with hopes that a nominee can be picked before the Democratic National Convention in late August.

Bredesen has pitched the idea in a series of appearances on TV political talk shows without success at the Democratic National Committee level.

He is one of those uncommitted superdelegates — elected officials and leaders who can back the candidate of their choice under party rules.

According to the Associated Press, Obama leads Clinton among delegates whose vote was determined by primaries or caucuses, 1,620 to 1,249. But neither candidate is on track to win enough in upcoming primaries and caucuses for the nomination, so superdelegates could decide the winner.

“It seems to me that once the primaries are over and unless your intention is that the superdelegates overturn the results of the primaries, I think it is kind of time for the superdelegates to fish or cut bait,” Bredesen stressed. “You have the information you need to make a decision. You have 250 to 300 (superdelegates) that might well determine who the nominee could be. I don’t think anybody wants the superdelegates to make this decision, but I think it’s much better to not go on until late August and have a divided party, an emotionally exhausted party. I think we are making ourselves a much harder and rocky road.”

Nine states, including North Carolina and Kentucky, have yet to hold a Democratic primary, and Bredesen noted that superdelegates in those states are still divided. Tennessee voters chose Clinton earlier this year over Obama.

During the club luncheon, Bredesen also responded to audience questions on these topics:

•On Tennessee’s boundary dispute with Georgia over water: “I reminded (Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue) I wouldn’t mess with a state that had Y-12 over in Oak Ridge...” Bredesen joked. “If you want to pick a list of 50 things to worry about as a Tennessean, I don’t think that one should appear.”

•On what his administration is doing to curb DUIs: “When you take apart the DUI accidents, you find that an awful lot of them are really people who have a huge problem with alcohol,” said Bredesen, who has proposed legislation to take away the driver’s license of someone who fails or does not take a sobriety test. “The whole idea is to get these people off the road now ... but we are getting a pushback from the legislature on this issue now, and in part it is coming from the legal community.”

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