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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Should She Stay Or Should She Go?

Wisconsin’s Dems assess Clinton’s viability

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While many Democrats are both fascinated with and terrified by 2008’s extended presidential nomination process, some of Wisconsin’s die-hard Democrats are not too worried about the deadlocked race between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

Although Obama has a slight and perhaps insurmountable lead among delegates, in the number of states won and in the popular vote, Clinton has maintained from the beginning that she’s “in it to win it” and she promises to keep campaigning until the Democratic convention in August.

The New York senator’s willingness to hang on despite the difficult odds has made some party leaders and pundits nervous about a contested convention and a battered nominee—either Clinton or Obama—in November. Stan Gruszynski, a former state legislator and a superdelegate who is supporting Obama, said that a nominee would be settled on without a lot of acrimony.

“I can’t think of a country that was run aground by a primary election,” Gruszynski said. “It will play out as it should.” Gruszynski predicted that if the April 22 Pennsylvania primary doesn’t decide the race, superdelegates and party elders will force the candidates to make a decision. Part of that pressure will come from the realities of the campaign calendar on local, state and congressional races.

“I think that people are going to want this to be sewn up about the same time that our local politicians begin to take out their nomination papers and the campaign season officially begins,” Gruszynski said. “I think we’ll get an answer in May or June.”

He said that the math doesn’t look so great for Clinton. “For all practical purposes, it’s not likely that she can win the nomination,” Gruszynski said. “If she comes to that realization a month from now, no harm done.”

Progressive attorney Ed Garvey says that party elders need to step up and discuss their options. “I do have the sense that something should happen here, that Howard Dean and Jimmy Carter and Al Gore and a few other people should at least sit down and discuss how the rest of the campaign should be run,” Garvey said. “I don’t know how you do that, exactly. But it’s a bit suicidal, the way it’s going on at the moment, for the party.”

He said that if the superdelegates overturn the popular vote, “then you’ll have President McCain.” But he predicted that Obama would secure the nomination shortly after the Pennsylvania (April 22) or North Carolina (May 6) primaries.

“Clinton will act like she was forced out,” Garvey said. “But I think she’ll figure out that she has to walk the plank.” Kathleen Falk, Dane County executive and an early and enthusiastic Clinton supporter, said that Clinton still has a chance.

“It is a very competitive race,” Falk said. Deciding the nominee at the convention wouldn’t be the end of the world, Falk noted. “That’s the purpose of a convention,” Falk said. “Democrats in the past have been accused of having everything decided before the convention and now when a convention might be interesting… you can’t have it both ways. We will have a great candidate at the end of this and we will win in November.”

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.

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