State 'superdelegate' endorses Obama

May 8, 2008

Bill Cotterell

Tallahassee Democrat

TALLAHASSEE -- His vote might not count, but "rogue state" superdelegate Dan Gelber endorsed Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Gelber, the state House minority leader from Miami Beach, announced his choice in his political blog a day after Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton split the North Carolina and Indiana primaries. At least four unpledged super delegates announced their support for Obama on Wednesday. In addition, 1972 presidential nominee George McGovern of South Dakota, came out for Obama — though McGovern is not a superdelegate

"I like both Obama and Clinton and believe either would be markedly better than the alternative," said Gelber. "But only one can be the Democratic nominee and we have to end this sooner than later. As a superdelegate from the rogue state of Florida ... my vote doesn't count. But if it did, I would say it's time to move on and choose Senator Barack Obama."

Clinton, trailing in the vote totals for pledged delegates chosen at the congressional-district level, has been counting on the super delegates -- members of the Democratic National Committee, Congress members and other party dignitaries -- to close the gap.

Gelber made a point of saying Obama may have a problem with Jewish voters -- but only because of unfounded attacks spread on the Internet.

"Don't believe everything you read in a viral chain email. As an American Jew, a strong and secure Israel is a paramount concern of mine," Gelber wrote in his blog.

Florida was stripped of all 211 national convention delegate votes because the 2007 Legislature moved the state's presidential primary to Jan. 29, a week ahead of the earliest date allowed by DNC rules. State and national party officials are trying to restore a delegation from Florida, along with the votes from Michigan, which voted Jan. 15.

"As much as I think our primary system is absurd, it is the system under which we operate and to ask super delegates to overturn the pledged delegate results is both elitist and decidedly un-Democratic," Gelber said. "Furthermore, too much is at stake in November to continue debating amongst ourselves."

Gelber also said he wasn't worried about the recent controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor.

"I'm sure everyone has a few associates — even close ones — that are, or become, embarrassing," said Gelber. "I judge Senator Obama on his own merits and he has demonstrated himself, unlike his former minister, to be a thoughtful and uniting force."

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