Kansas City Mayor Sly James, a Democratic party superdelegate, is loyal to Hillary Clinton, so much so that he would only switch his support to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with the former secretary of state’s permission.
“I will remain a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton until she releases me from that obligation,” James said during an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Politics’ “With All Due Respect.”
“That’s not going to change based on the delegate count, whether or not Bernie Sanders is ahead or Hillary is ahead,” he continued, adding that he sees his job as a superdelegate as “[making] sure that those of us who are supporting Hillary Clinton are loyal to that support.”
As one of 718 party superdelegates, James is not required to pledge undying allegiance to one candidate. Superdelegates, also known as unpledged or unbound delegates, are free to flip their support if they want.
That happened during the 2008 Democratic primaries when about 50 superdelegates changed from supporting Clinton to backing then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
The Democrats’ superdelegate system has been the target of heavy criticism of late, especially from Sanders supporters who argue that it is undemocratic. Sanders’ backers say that Clinton’s massive superdelegate lead — 469 to 31 — does not reflect the will of the voters.
February’s New Hampshire primary provides an example of the faulty system. Sanders won that contest with 60 percent of the vote. Clinton received 38 percent, but both candidates walked away with the same number of total delegates — 15.
Sanders’ delegates were pledged delegates. They were apportioned based on the percentage of votes that he won. Clinton was awarded nine of those delegates but also had the support of six state superdelegates.
None of those superdelegates — a group which includes the state’s governor and one of its senators — decided to switch allegiances even after Sanders’ massive win.
James, who was elected Kansas City mayor in 2011, said Thursday that he sees nothing wrong with the system.
“I don’t think that it’s anti-democratic at all,” he said. “These rules were established by the Democratic Party.”
“The system seems to be working and has worked in the past.”