- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia supports Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Virginia Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr. backs Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The people they represent disagree.

It’s an emerging reality that many of the 796 superdelegates — governors, members of Congress and party activists — face in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer, where superdelegates may be called upon to decide the party’s presidential nominee.

Mr. Boucher, a 13-term congressman from southwest Virginia and a superdelegate, has already been pressured to change his mind.

While Mr. Obama Tuesday dominated Virginia’s presidential primary by nearly 30 percentage points, Mrs. Clinton, of New York, nearly doubled the number of votes the Illinois senator received in Mr. Boucher’s 9th Congressional District. It was the only one of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts she won.

Within hours, Jeff Mitchell, a Blacksburg, Va., attorney and Clinton campaign volunteer, began organizing a phone campaign to pressure Mr. Boucher to follow the will of his district and pledge his support to Mrs. Clinton.

But the campaign was short-lived.

Contacted yesterday, Mr. Mitchell, said, “We learned that Rick gave his word to Sen. Obama. We are not going to ask him to go back on his word.”

Courtney Lamie, Mr. Boucher’s spokesperson, said it was safe to assume the congressman would stick with Mr. Obama — despite comments from the Obama camp that it would be “problematic” for superdelegates to “overturn the judgment of the voters” in the primary and caucuses leading up to the convention.

The Clinton camp says superdelegates should “vote their conscience.”

In Mr. Spruill’s Virginia district, which includes parts of Chesapeake and Suffolk, Mr. Obama won about 70 percent of the vote.

But the legislator remains committed to Mrs. Clinton.

“He’s elected to the General Assembly to represent his district. But as far as a superdelegate, that’s a whole different thing. It’s like comparing apples and oranges,” said Susan Rowland, his legislative aide. “He is still in the Clinton camp.”

Thomas Graham, Democratic Party chairman in Mr. Boucher’s congressional district, said fault could be found with either philosophy.

“There is the old adage that we are not members of an organized political party — we are Democrats,” he said. “You are seeing the sausage being made. I just hope it doesn’t draw out in such a way that we get animosity between the two fractions.”

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