Utah Democrats Beat Back Attack on Superdelegates

Democrats vote against a proposed resolutionIf you’ve ever wondered what a political temper tantrum might look like, Tuesday night in northwest Salt Lake City provided a textbook example. 

A small group of Bernie Sanders supporters brought a quixotic fight over the state’s Democratic superdelegates to the state central committee meeting. The ingenious gentleman from La Mancha would be proud. 
As you remember, Sanders overwhelmingly won Utah’s presidential preference vote in March, winning him a hefty majority of the state’s pledged delegates. But Utah’s four superdelegates are split evenly between Sanders and Hillary Clinton at two each.
That situation was apparently unacceptable to this group. They proposed a bylaw to the state party constitution imposing hefty punishments on superdelegates that did not side with the majority in March’s vote, meaning Sanders. Those sanctions included forcing them to step down from the state executive committee, banning them from ever holding such office again and withholding party support if they ran for elective office in the future.
Essentially, this was an effort to punish two people – Rep. Patrice Arent, who holds one of Utah’s seats on the Democratic National Committee, and party vice-chair Breanne Miller. Both announced their support for Clinton before Sanders even entered the Democratic presidential race, and both have been the subject of scorn from Sanders supporters since.
In the end, this nuclear option fell overwhelmingly at the hands of the state central committee, who felt it was a step, or even many steps, too far. 
However, it wasn’t for a lack of trying by the Sanders supporters, who promised their fellow Democrats that having Bernie Sanders on the ballot in November would guarantee Democratic victories up and down the ticket in Utah. To hear it from this group, Sanders could also heal the sick and bring the dead back to life, much like another nice Jewish boy hailing from the east.
Those bold proclamations may be fabulistic reasoning as recent UtahPolicy.com polling shows presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump would defeat both Sanders and Clinton in November. 
When parliamentarian Joe Hatch read off a laundry list of reasons why the proposal ran afoul of national party rules and the state party constitution, the small group of Sanders backers pushed back hard. In fact, had the proposal passed, the national party could have imposed sanctions on Utah, including going so far as unseating all 37 of the state’s delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia in July.
When a speaker defended superdelegates during the open debate, cat calls of “elitist” came from the back of the room.
Emotions were running so high on the issue that spectators nearly came to blows at one point during the evening over a sarcastic remark from the peanut gallery.
“This proposal gives Sanders more than his fair share of delegate votes,” said Dr. Ellen Brady, who noted Sanders won 78% of the vote in March and was given the same proportion of delegates, including superdelegates. “This smacks of McCarthyism.”
“The Utah Democratic party lost three legislative seats by a combined 295 votes,” said Aaron Finney. “Bernie Sanders is the candidate who will bring the people to the polls this year.”
Some who spoke against the proposal likened it to a blacklist or even something they would expect from the Utah Republican Party who threatened to kick candidates out of the party during the legal brouhaha over SB54.
“We shouldn’t have purity tests for our candidates,” said Issac Higham, clearly taking a swipe at the Utah GOP. “Utah Democrats have to beg people to run for office. We can’t afford to kick people out.”
In the end, members of the central committee voted more than 3-1 that the proposal was out of order, effectively killing it.
However, the central committee did pass a non-binding resolution calling on the national party to re-evaluate and eventually ditch the superdelegate system, but not this year.
Party chair Peter Corroon showed the patience of a saint Tuesday night as he tried to keep order between the two warring factions. By the end of the evening, he had clearly tired of the fight, just hoping to get out of there without open warfare.
“I’m not a fan of the superdelegate system, but that system is what we have,” said Corroon. “The resolution clearly conveys that the Democratic Party in Utah wants a change to the superdelegate system, and we are sending a message that we want change.”