Former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak is one of the super delegates to the Democratic National Convention, by virtue of his status as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
He writes today on his Facebook page that he’s been getting emails asking whom he intends to vote for at the convention, should Hillary Clinton not have the nomination locked up by the time the Democrats meet in Philadelphia in July.
So today he issued an open letter in response, saying he’s not picking sides yet, nor does he owe anything to the results of the Minnesota caucuses, which overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders over Clinton.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I want to give some background on how I think about super delegates and how I will cast my vote:
First, the idea of super delegates.
Long term I have mixed feelings about super delegates, and the number and how they are allocated. I’m not nuts about them but think there are cases when they are helpful . We see a great example in the other party this year. If I was a Republican this year I could not in good conscious vote for Donald Trump. If a Democratic version of him came along (God help us), super delegates could play a role in helping to prevent someone who didn’t represent the values of people who spent decades building the party from getting the nomination. If there was a candidate who got a lot of votes but would clearly sink most other Democrats, super delegates help us think twice. Again, I see this as an extreme example but, as Trump proves, extremes happen.
In general I do not think super delegates should vote in a block to prevent the overwhelming voice of the people.
Second, how I will handle my vote:
I have this vote because I am a vice chair of the national party. Having party leaders neutral is very important so I will not make a decision until very late in the process. This will be frustrating to people who want delegates to decide now; I understand that because I spent a lot of time trying to get delegates to commit when I was very involved in the Bradley, Dean and Obama campaigns. But I feel it is more important to do what I can to keep the party as neutral as I can be so please understand my neutrality is not being indecisive. It is about fairness.
I am actually not neutral. I love both candidates, for very different reasons, and am ready to campaign hard for either.
I will base my vote on a number of factors but how the people voted in the primary/caucus rounds will be very important.
Because I have this vote as a vice chair of the national party, not the Minnesota party, I do not represent Minnesota alone. This means I will be most interested in representing the votes from across the country. I am, however, very much a Minnesotan, so that caucus vote will have a special interest. The majority of the Democrats in Minnesota voted for Sanders and the majority of super delegates are so far committed to Clinton. That’s what the system allows but it’s certainly not ideal. That will be a factor in how I make my choice, but, because I am a national cochair with national responsibilities, not the sole point I will look at.
In almost every election I made decisions very early and was very active in the campaign. This is new for me, and difficult for me, but I think the role I play as a neutral party leader is very important, especially this year.
Again, I really appreciate you writing and believe the only way we put people in charge of these systems is if people like you take the time to make your points know to people like me. I am reading email and letter I get, will take your points into account and look forward to campaigning with you when one of our two great candidates gets the nomination.
Related: Bernie Sanders’s Hail Mary: maybe superdelegates can save me (Vox)