Most of Tennessee’s Democratic National Convention delegates are pledged to former presidential contender Hillary Clinton, and they are legally bound to vote for her on the convention’s initial ballot unless they are released, Clinton delegate Bruce Shine of Kingsport said Tuesday.
But Shine, an attorney and current Tennessee Supreme Court nominee, indicated the situation did not represent a serious roadblock to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama winning the delegation’s complete support.
About 40 Tennessee DNC delegates, including Shine, went to Denver as Clinton delegates after she easily won Tennessee’s Democratic presidential primary over Obama.
“Under Tennessee statute we are legally bound to vote (for her) the first ballot unless the candidate formally releases you and urges you to vote for the other person,” Shine explained. “(But) there’s a legal argument that the state of Tennessee does not have legal authority to command anyone to do an act outside its state boundaries. So there’s the argument the Tennessee statute is not binding. ... There’s also a school of thought the Democratic National Committee Convention rules do not recognize a pledge.”
Shine said he felt “honor bound” to vote for Clinton on the first ballot if she wanted a role call vote.
The process, he indicated, could heal divisions between Clinton’s and Obama’s delegates.
“If during the roll call vote (Obama) gets a majority, she could withdraw and release the delegates and allow them to switch their votes or move his nomination by acclamation,” Shine added. “It’s a matter of soothing feelings. There is a contingency of Clinton delegates who feel very strongly, but I don’t think they are the majority. ... It’s pretty obvious from my feel of the (Tennessee) delegation ... there is no anti-Obama mind-set.”
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, meanwhile, hosted a conference call with Tennessee reporters in an attempt to explain why she believes Obama is wrong for the state.
“There’s going to be plenty of time this week for the Democrats to talk about tax increases,” said Blackburn, R-7th District. “The question with the American public is always going to be ‘How are you going to pay for this?’ ... The American people know (GOP presidential nominee) John McCain has been there and sometimes is the lone voice talking about out-of-control government spending and the need to rein that in.”