Electoral math, post Super Tuesday; Richard Honaker’s judicial activism; mobilizing for Obama.



In January launched a rotating guest blog,

Passing Through

, featuring monthly stints by some of America’s most celebrated political bloggers. Next up is

David Roberts

, the senior staff writer at

, an online journal of green politics and culture. He blogs there daily, even obsessively, mainly on politics and energy. He also has a monthly column on green business in Fast Company magazine. Look for David’s posts on our website through February.


The race for the Democratic nomination, as we’ve been reminded over and over, is a battle for delegates. Going into Super Tuesday,

Barack Obama


Hillary Clinton

by sixty-three to forty-eight pledged delegates. As we go to press following a twenty-two-state bonanza, the margin between the candidates was practically the same–or possibly tighter. On Wednesday morning, the Obama campaign claimed a twenty-eight-delegate lead, 910 to 882. The Clinton camp said it was up by five. CNN put Obama up thirteen. It takes 2,025 delegates to clinch the nomination. Prepare for a long ride.

Between February 9 and February 12, five states–along with DC and the Virgin Islands–will hold primaries and caucuses, awarding 475 delegates. Polling has been scant in the upcoming contest, but Obama retains an advantage in a number of states, including Louisiana and the so-called Potomac Primaries of Maryland, Virginia and DC. The Virgin Islands, with a whopping nine delegates, is too close to call. If the Democratic nominee isn’t clear after that, the delegate-rich states of Wisconsin (February 19), Ohio and Texas (both March 4) will loom even larger. If the race stretches into April, Pennsylvania’s 188 delegates could prove decisive.

Or not. Factor in the party’s elusive “superdelegates”–the 842 unpledged party operatives and elected officials not chosen by primary voters but by the Democratic establishment–and Clinton retains an estimated ninety-delegate advantage. The superdelegates can switch allegiances at any time, making an unpredictable race even more, well, unpredictable.

And then there’s the tricky predicament of Florida and Michigan, stripped of their delegates by the Democratic National Committee but eager for a say at the convention. Clinton “won” the two meaningless primaries and wants her share of what would be more than 300 delegates. After skipping both contests, Obama has been forced to defend the party’s rules. With every delegate more critical than the next, the national party will face pressure to broker a preconvention agreement. Paging

Howard Dean



According to a Google News search conducted on February 6,

Richard Honaker

, President Bush’s latest radical nominee to the federal bench, has not been mentioned even once by a major newspaper, TV or radio station, or Internet news site this month.

This is a shame, because citizens deserve to know that Honaker is far outside the mainstream when it comes to reproductive rights and freedoms. He’s devoted a good chunk of his career to fighting to deny women access to safe, legal reproductive-health services. He tried and failed–three times–to pass a state law banning abortion in Wyoming while serving in that state’s House of Representatives. He has publicly stated that abortion is “wrong, and no one should have the right to do what is wrong.” No stare decisis for him.

Honaker seems much more activist than jurist, given his public dismissals of the decisions of US District Court judges as unimportant and forgettable. Not surprisingly,

Steven Ertelt

, the leader of

Right to Life of Wyoming

, is giving Bush major props for the nomination: “Because of his pro-life views and past efforts to protect human life, it’s obvious that Richard Honaker joins with attorneys on both side [sic] of the abortion debate who understand that Roe v. Wade was an example of unadulterated judicial activism and that the role of the courts to is [sic] interpret the law–not make it up as you go.”

Moreover, beyond Honaker’s documented hostility toward a woman’s right to choose, his statements about how certain religious views should influence legal analysis call into question his ability to apply the law without prejudice and with appropriate respect for and deference to precedent.

Honaker’s nomination is expected to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee very soon. The Jackson Hole


recently reported that Honaker’s sponsor, Senator

Mike Enzi

, is hoping the nominee will get an early 2008 hearing. NARAL has made it easy to register your opposition to Honaker’s nomination. Visit the group’s website to implore your senator to vote against Honaker’s appointment. He’s just too extreme.   PETER ROTHBERG


In the run-up to Super Tuesday,

Thomas Hargis

made 267 phone calls asking people to vote for

Barack Obama

. But he never hit a campaign phone bank.

Hargis was one of thousands who stepped up during this decentralized phase of the race, when candidates can barely visit most states, let alone organize them. In an unusual move, Obama’s field program empowers volunteers to call voters on their own. That approach got a boost February 1 from


, which voted to endorse Obama over

Hillary Clinton

by a forty-point margin (70 to 30 percent). In a four-day blitz, the netroots group gave its members phone numbers for likely voters in primary states, information about Obama and YouTube videos of a stump speech, and recommended messages for a web-driven “Endorse-O-Thon.” Activists made more than 50,000 calls to MoveOn voters in Super Tuesday states and sent 455,228 endorsement notes to their contacts–the kind of personal, local appeals that campaigns often orchestrate in earlier small-state primaries.

There is even more time to mobilize voters in the next round of primaries. MoveOn boasts one out of ten primary voters in Maryland. In Virginia, it has about 70,000 members–that’s 17 percent of the turnout for the state’s 2004 primary. Now, those voters will hear not only from operatives and political telemarketers but from their fellow antiwar netroots activists across the nation, asking them to stand up for a candidate and a movement.   ARI MELBER

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