Jim Costa: Valley Superdelegate

February 29, 2008 8:00:45 PM PST
Tuesday's Primaries in Ohio and Texas could make or break the race for the Democratic Nominee for President.As Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign hard in those states, they're also courting a Valley Congressman.

Jim Costa is one of about 800 Superdelegates a group made up of members of congress, governors, and party insiders.

They can cast ballots for whoever they want at the Democratic National Convention.

In an exclusive action news SurveyUSA poll, only 20-percent of California voters thought the Superdelegate system is good 64-percent say it's bad.

Superdelegates make up about 20 percent of the total democratic delegates. Republicans don't use Superdelegates, and even among the democrats, they've been mostly symbolic.

This year's race is so close, right now, the candidates are campaigning aggressively for them, including right here in the Valley.

Jim Costa is a wanted man.

The Fresno Congressman is one of two Superdelegates from the Valley and the only one who hasn't endorsed Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

As a result, he's getting very friendly phone calls every day from both campaigns.

Jim Costa: "I don't want to be swayed by the fact that this candidate called or that candidate called. I really want to try to make a rational, reasoned choice."

Costa says he'll eventually pick the candidate most likely to win in November, but the constant calls give him a chance to discuss Valley issues with his party's top politicians at least a little.

Jim Costa: "Of course, to try to get them to focus on that when they're in the midst of a very competitive race is hard."

Democrats started the Superdelegate system to give party insiders a bigger say in the nomination.

Candidates need about 2-thousand delegates to win the nomination, so the almost 8-hundred superdelegates have a lot of power to decide a close race.

So far this year, 240 have come out for Clinton, including the Valley's Dennis Cardoza.

190 are supporting Obama, and 288 still haven't declared an endorsement.

The center for responsive politics says many of those Superdelegates are following the money.

It found that an overwhelming majority 82 percent of elected officials who endorsed a candidate chose the one who gave their campaign more money.

Valley politicians appear to be an exception.

Hillary Clinton has given no money to Dennis Cardoza's campaign or to the Costa campaign.

Obama, on the other hand, has given 4-thousand dollars to Costa and 4-thousand more to Cardoza.

Abc30 Political Analyst Tony Capozzi says that money won't make a difference.

Capozzi: "They're gonna vote for the person who they think will win the nomination because it will help them no matter who gave them the money."

Whether it's campaign money or just an ear on the phone, Costa is enjoying his time as the center of attention.

Costa: "It's nice to be wanted, LAUGHS."

Costa says he'll wait to give out an endorsement until at least after next Tuesday when Ohio and Texas hold primaries.

But he's taking a little risk.

By then, the race could be more or less decided and his leverage will disappear.


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