Former Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine has asked the Democratic National Committee to end the use of superdelegates in its nomination process, according to Politico.
What is a superdelegate?
Both major parties use delegates in their presidential nomination processes. Delegates are pledged to support the winner of their state’s presidential primary, and a candidate must win a predetermined number of their votes in order to gain the party’s nomination.
However, the Democratic Party uses superdelegates — unbound delegates who may support any candidate they wish — as well. Superdelegates consist of members of Congress, influential members of the party such as current or former presidents and vice presidents, or DNC officials.
According to CBS News, superdelegates were about 15 percent of total delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year.
Opponents of superdelegates argue the process gives party officials too much influence over the nomination process, while supporters say they protect the institution of the party from candidates who don’t represent the party’s platform or are ill-equipped to win a general election.
What did Kaine say?
Kaine, a senator from Virginia and a former DNC chairman, wrote in a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, "I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic.”
Kaine, who himself is a superdelegate, promised that if the party doesn’t change the rules, he will vote for whoever his state supports in any future nominating process.
“I encourage any other superdelegate who feels the same way to take the same pledge,” Kaine wrote. “I believe the task of the Unity Commission will be made easier if its members know that there are many superdelegates, appointed automatically pursuant to party rules, who don’t mind changes to the current system to make our rules more democratic."
The DNC’s Unity Reform Commission is reviewing the DNC’s nominating process in the wake of allegations party officials worked to sway the primary in former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s favor.
The position puts Kaine, who was Clinton's running mate, on the side of Clinton’s former rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the debate. Sanders has also called for abolishing superdelegates.