Breaking and associated brands will be offline for scheduled maintenance Friday Feb. 26 9 PM US EST to Saturday Feb. 27 6 AM EST. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Harold Ickes is watching. Hillary Clinton’s chief delegate wrangler knows that there are superdelegates — who this year might actually make the difference at the Democratic convention — who can be wooed and won over, if he can just get a handle on certain crucial details. Remember that superdelegates are those delegates not obligated by a primary or caucus result to support a particular candidate. “We find out who they talk to about political issues,” Ickes says. “If they’re members of Congress, we find out who has made contributions and raised money for them. There’s a variety of ways to try to persuade superdelegates to support your candidate, but virtually all of it is one-by-one contact.” This spy work is all part of the battle between the campaigns for superdelegates, even those who say they’ve already chosen one candidate. A few D.C. lobbyists are on that MVP list, and these insiders are in the strange position of being lobbied themselves. Out of a possible 796 superdelegate votes at the Democratic convention, about 200 have aligned themselves with Clinton and 100 with Barack Obama. Most are still playing the field. Here’s a look at a few superdelegates from the lobbying world and the pressures and choices they face. GREGORY PECORARO Gregory Pecoraro got a good look at some down-and-dirty fighting for delegates early in his political career. Today a member of the Democratic National Committee, the lobbyist for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association was a college student attending the 1980 convention in New York when the long-awaited fight between Edward Kennedy’s insurgent presidential campaign and the Jimmy Carter-Walter Mondale ticket broke out. Coming on strong late in the primaries, Kennedy knew his only shot at the nomination was to steal away Carter’s delegates on the convention floor itself. “It got pretty nasty,” Pecoraro says. He was seated near a “pretty tough union guy” from the Maryland delegation who was rumored to be on the verge of jumping ship to the Kennedy camp. Carter’s people didn’t try to charm him back. “They took him off the floor, and they beat him up pretty good [verbally],” Pecoraro says. Exactly what the man was threatened with Pecoraro never found out, but it was apparent the man had been affected by the chat. “He didn’t want to talk to anybody or say anything until it was time to vote,” Pecoraro says. And he voted for Carter. At the moment, Pecoraro’s in a much safer spot than that union rep. A superdelegate by virtue of his seat on the DNC, Pecoraro has a rock-solid excuse for remaining uncommitted. He’s the chairman of Maryland’s Democratic delegate selection committee, a role that would make anything but a strict show of neutrality unseemly until Maryland’s Feb. 12 primary passes. He’d like to see the primary stay competitive until then, he says, simply because he’d like to see Obama and Clinton campaign in his state. But he hopes the race wraps up shortly after that. “I think what would be healthiest for the party is before the spring we have a clear nominee we can rally around, and for the Republicans to keep beating each other up until September,” he says. Even if Pecoraro is neutral for the time being, however, he’s still seeing a certain amount of lobbying. The first push for his convention vote came at the DNC meeting last winter, when his friend Luis Navarro, Joseph Biden’s campaign manager, “worked me pretty good,” Pecoraro says. In the year since, he’s gotten used to occasional calls from the leading campaigns’ delegate trackers, along with a steady stream of policy papers and flattering news clippings about the candidates in the mail. But he hasn’t felt much pressure. “Nobody big has called me,” he says. “Everyone in Maryland who might call me knows my role.” That could change. He says a brokered convention could mean he’d feel, along with some excitement, some heat from the campaigns and their most prominent supporters in the Maryland state party. “Would I really like to have [Clinton supporter] Governor [Martin] O’Malley call me and say, �Greg, here’s what you’re going to do’?” he asks rhetorically. He’d rather not get that call. JACK EVANS Jack Evans has made it clear that his loyalties lie with Clinton and have for a long time. The D.C. Council member from Ward 2 first crossed paths with the Clintons back in October 1991, when friends persuaded him to become the first non-Arkansas elected official to publicly embrace little-known Gov. Bill Clinton. “My chief of staff was friends with people who knew him. I knew of him,” Evans says. He thought the young governor was charismatic and promising. And then there was the message he was getting from Rodney Slater, who later became secretary of transportation under President Clinton and is currently a partner at Patton Boggs. Slater, Evans says, “indicated it was a big deal if they could get support outside of Arkansas.” That was enough for Evans, now of counsel at Patton Boggs and a delegate to the convention because of his position on the D.C. Council. When the Clintons moved to Washington, they began attending Evans’ church, Foundry United Methodist, and he slowly got to know the then-first lady; the Clintons also had him to dinner at the White House. Now, he’s co-chairing Sen. Clinton’s D.C. efforts, something he also did for her husband. This will be Evans’ fourth convention (he skipped 2004). Other candidates haven’t tried any kind of recruitment tactics because they know he’s firmly in the Clinton camp, he says. Of course, if Clinton isn’t the nominee, Evans says he will support whoever is. JAMES ZOGBY James Zogby is firmly in the Obama camp — so much so that he’s worked other superdelegates on behalf of the Obama campaign. The president of the Arab American Institute says he first heard Obama speak at the 2004 convention, when Obama burst onto the national political stage, and he was impressed. And then in February 2006, Obama spoke at a DNC meeting, giving “a thoughtful discourse on the idea of cynicism, and talked about how we need to install idealism in politics.” That was enough for Zogby, who gave Obama workers his phone number. Zogby became an official supporter this past summer. Zogby has made at least a couple of dozen calls to other superdelegates to rally support for Obama. He’s had some success winning over a few. His commitment hasn’t completely put off the calls from Clinton’s people, he says. He’s received two phone calls from people he knows in the Clinton camp, he says, but he told them that although he respects Clinton, he had already committed his vote to Obama. Obama’s message appealed to Zogby, who had spent years working his way up in the party at a time when he felt Arab-Americans weren’t as welcome. Becoming a member of the DNC and a superdelegate was a personal milestone, he says. When he first went to the Democratic convention in 1984, it was as deputy campaign manager for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, then a presidential candidate. Zogby felt his was the first campaign to fully include Arab-Americans. He relishes the idea that superdelegates’ votes could matter this year and that the convention could be more than a stage-managed showcase. “This may be an event,” he says, “where the delegates become what they are supposed to be.”
Jeff Horwitz can be contacted at [email protected]. Carrie Levine can be contacted at [email protected].

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.