Dean wants superdelegates to come to a quick decision

The DNC chairman encourages remaining delegates to declare a preference by July 1.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published March 28, 2008 2:35PM (EDT)

The Democratic Party won't hold its national convention until late in August, but Howard Dean, the party's chairman, is pushing to have the presidential nomination wrapped up almost two months earlier. In an interview with CBS News this morning (video below), Dean called on the party's superdelegates -- who don't cast their official vote until the convention -- to declare a preference for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton "by the first of July, so we don't have to take this into the convention."

The last of the state nominating contests will take place on June 3, when South Dakota and Montana hold primaries. But neither candidate is expected to win enough "pledged delegates" in the remaining state contests to secure the nomination -- the superdelegates, that is, will decide the nominee.

Dean pointed out that 450 superelegates have already taken a side in the race -- he's giving the other 350 about a month's time, following the last primaries, to make a choice.

Politico's Ben Smith asked a Dean aide to elaborate on his suggested date; the aide said July 1 is not a firm deadline, but Dean would encourage superdelegates not to wait until the convention.

Dean's proposal jibes with Obama's preference. The Illinois senator has said he wants the superdelegates to make their decision sometime in June. The Clinton campaign, which lags behind Obama in pledged delegates, has pushed for more flexibility for the superdelegates. Clinton has not endorsed any deadline for their decision.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Howard Dean War Room