Why Rybak is staying uncommitted

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)

  • John

    That is a really nice explanation of the nuances of his thought process. Whomever he votes for, I’m glad to see that he’s thinking it through and is not giving a knee-jerk commitment to one or the other candidate.

    • BJ

      Or he has a really good ghost writer.

  • Gary F

    Remember Berniacs, the DNC doesn’t trust you to make the right decision, that’s why there are super delegates.

    • Postal Customer

      which is why Hillary was nominated in 2008 . . .

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Nice try. The purpose of the super delegates is to make sure that the party leadership (elected officials, DNC members, etc.) Are guaranteed a voice at the convention. It is after all a party function and as others have said it counters attempts to hijack the nominating process.

  • lindblomeagles

    At this juncture, I’m open to Bernie or Hillary winning the nomination because
    quite frankly the Republicans can’t offer anything better than Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Cruz, by the way, according to NPR, has just been accused by the National Enquirer of having extra-martial affairs, which, if proven correctly, probably signals the end of his campaign just like an extra-marital affair torpedoed John Edwards in 2008. The National Enquirer broke Edwards’ affair to the public in 2008 too. The Democratic Party should find a way to get both candidates, Sanders and Hillary, on this year’s Presidential Ticket because they both have good ideas that span the gamut, from young voters to white voters to minority voters to female voters and to older voters. They should really be paired together.

    • Postal Customer

      The difference is that Edwards was already sunk by the time that story came out. Also it was true. Is the story of Cruz true? Don’t know. He’s a devout Christian, after all, and they never cheat on their spouses.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        Oddly enough its also what torpedoed Gary Hart’s run in 1984. (One can also pull in the local race of John Grunseth for Governor in 1990.)

        Personally I believe that if it is true it will be far more damaging to Cruz than it was to Edwards, in part because of his claims about his personal beliefs.

    • Kassie

      I do find it humorous that voters care when there are extra-marital affairs happening with high level politicians. I really doubt there are many male politicians (except Carter of course) who haven’t had affairs. I imagine the number of female politicians who have had affairs is lower, but still happens regularly.

      Also, and I doubt it is the case with Cruz, we need to start recognizing that there are lots of open marriages these days and having a lover is not the same as having an affair or cheating. It is just the way some marriages are set up.