Democratic 'Superdelegates' Reforms Reduced Role In Presidential Nomination Party leaders who have voted on the nominations of Democrats' presidential candidates for three decades, unbound by primaries and caucuses, will now only weigh in if a convention is deadlocked.
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DNC Votes To Largely Strip 'Superdelegates' Of Presidential Nominating Power

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DNC Votes To Largely Strip 'Superdelegates' Of Presidential Nominating Power

DNC Votes To Largely Strip 'Superdelegates' Of Presidential Nominating Power

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Democratic Party appears poised for a big change in the way it chooses its presidential nominees by reducing the role of party leaders known as superdelegates. The DNC has been meeting in Chicago this week. They'll vote on proposed new rules today. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Chicago.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The proposed rule changes are controversial. Here's how Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez addressed the packed room for the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting two days ago.

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TOM PEREZ: Somebody asked me earlier today, well, are you concerned that there could be some passionate disagreements? And my answer to that is come to my house at Thanksgiving.

GONYEA: Superdelegates are party insiders, elected officials, members of Congress and high-ranking party activists from every state. Under current rules, they can support any candidate they want independent of what Democratic primary and caucus voters do during the primary campaign season. Under the new proposal, they don't get a vote at the nominating convention unless the first ballot fails to produce a nominee. After that, they can join other delegates until someone wins a majority. Before the plan came to the full DNC for final approval here, it won support in several earlier meetings. There has been dissent this week, including from some African-American DNC members like Virgie Rollins of Detroit.

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VIRGIE ROLLINS: I'd want to emphasize again that it took years for African-Americans to be sitting at this table and being a part of the DNC.

GONYEA: Rollins and others liken this to taking away their voice, to disenfranchisement. DNC vice chairman Michael Blake of New York City, he's also African-American, disagreed. He says this will give more of a voice to more people, signaling that the Democratic Party welcomes them.

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MICHAEL BLAKE: We are having a conversation about individual power when people who need power right now are the folks in Flint or the folks that are struggling with lead paint and the folks that are wondering if they have a discriminatory, racist, sexist, modernistic demagogue in the White House right now.

GONYEA: The push for changes came about after the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite of the superdelegates. She also won a solid majority among delegates awarded in primary contests and caucuses. But there was a perception particularly among supporters of her main challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, that she had an unfair advantage from the beginning. Now, one potential 2020 hopeful was here making the rounds, a long shot to be sure, Michael Avenatti, who has been taking on President Trump as the attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Whether it's for publicity or for real, he's not being coy.

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MICHAEL AVENATTI: Why don't people just come out and say, yeah, I'm seriously considering running for president? I mean, I think that this is part of the problem. People don't call it like they see it. People don't tell people like it is.

GONYEA: To that end, he added...

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AVENATTI: So when somebody asks me, are you seriously considering running for president, I say, yeah, I'm seriously considering running for president. If they ask me if I made up my mind, I say, no, I have it because I haven't.

GONYEA: And with that, he made his way to a nearby caucus meeting that was wrapping up and delivered an unscheduled two-minute speech. There were a lot of empty chairs but cheers, too, and lots of selfies. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Chicago.

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