Make sure presidential race stays fair and square
Hawaii Democrats voted overwhelmingly in caucus to back Sen. Barack Obama.
HAWAII'S avalanche of support for native son Barack Obama's presidential bid was in stunning defiance of the state Democratic Party's leadership. Barring any blunder by Obama in the months ahead, the party's stewards should be concerned that they don't chase away the newly registered arrivals in the rank and file by trying to block his nomination.
The senator from Illinois, born in Honolulu and graduated from Punahou School, won in the record-breaking turnout for the state's Democratic caucuses by more than a 3-1 ratio over Sen. Hillary Clinton, one of his most lopsided victories in this year's presidential race.
Neither Obama nor Clinton is expected to accumulate a majority of pledged delegates in primary elections or caucuses before the party's national convention in August. The outcome could lay in the hands of so-called superdelegates comprised of members of Congress and other party insiders.
Clinton's campaign in Hawaii was headed by state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. It is endorsed by Sen. Daniel Inouye, the party's overlord, former party chairman Richard Port -- both superdelegates -- and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state's largest public employee union, by order of its parent organization. The contest "is not over yet," Inouye vowed after Tuesday's balloting.
The superdelegate category was created after George McGovern's rout in the 1972 election and was intended to ensure that the Democratic nominee was electable. Opinion polls consistently indicate that Obama would fare better than Clinton against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Obama now has 1,336 delegates to Clinton's 1,251, according to the Associated Press. Those figures include 242 superdelegates for Clinton and 160 for Obama, including Rep. Neil Abercrombie, leaving nearly 400 superdelegates yet to commit.
Hawaii became the 10th consecutive state contest won by Obama. Even a large and unlikely reversal of that trend in Texas and Ohio on March 4 and in subsequent state contests would come short of giving Clinton the 2,025 delegates needed for a majority. Nor would a continuation of Obama's winning streak arithmetically result in a majority for him.
Clinton is calling desperately for the seating of delegates from Michigan -- where she was alone on the ballot -- and Florida, where she won, because those states held their primary contests too early. Both Clinton and Obama agreed not to campaign in those states. Reversing that understanding would be bold chicanery.
McCain is adopting Clinton's unsuccessful assertion that Obama lacks the Washington experience necessary to be effective in the White House. Superdelegates should pause and consider the certain backfire from opting to quell the unprecedented enthusiasm in Hawaii and elsewhere for Obama's call for changing the way Washington operates.