Oklahoma Superdelegate Plays Waiting Game Until Convention

This story was written by Callie Kavourgias, Oklahoma Daily
Although some superdelegates have already endorsed a candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Jay Parmley, one of Oklahoma's 10 superdelegates, said he feels no pressure to decide until the convention.

"I won't decide until after all of the primaries and caucuses are over in the states and territories," he said. "I think it is important to weigh not only how Oklahoma voted, but how the rest of the county has voted."

Parmley said superdelegates became so important in this election because the contest between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is so close.

He said, however, he does not think a superdelegate's impact is any more important than any other delegate at the convention.

"Because superdelegates can vote for whomever they choose and can wait until the convention to make their choice known, it seems that superdelegates will have a greater impact, but I don't believe we are any more important than the pledged delegates who are determined by a state's primary or caucus results," Parmley said.

Todd Goodman, Oklahoma's Democratic Party field director, said many people believe it is best to maintain neutrality before the convention. However, Parmley said he has no problem with superdelegates who already have endorsed a candidate.

"Clearly, they have every right to decide at any point in this process," he said. "I do think, however, that superdelegates should be absolutely sure who they are supporting prior to announcing their decision. I think moving back and forth between the candidates is not helpful or fair to the process."

Goodman, who met Parmley through the party, said he appreciates Parmley's neutrality, especially because Hillary and Bill Clinton and Obama have all made personal calls to superdelegates asking for their support.

"I know if Bill Clinton called me on my cell phone, it would be tough to say no to him," he said.

Parmley grew up on his family farm in Wyandotte, a small rural town in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. His high school graduating class had only 49 students.

"I can remember vividly meeting my congressman as a second-grade student at Wyandotte Elementary and thinking that he must have the most wonderful job in the world," he said. "Congressman [Michael] Synar was a Democrat, and even as a youngster I thought what he said made sense."

In high school and college, Parmley worked for local Democratic candidates. He attended OU for his bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration. After graduating he worked in the early '90s as then-OU President Richard L. Van Horn's assistant. From 2001 to 2005 he served as chairman and executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Although currently in South Carolina working for the Democratic Party, Parmley continues to keep a permanent residence in Oklahoma. He pays Oklahoma state taxes and is registered to vote here.

"Oklahoma is home," he said. "However, since 2005, I have worked for the Democratic National Committee, working with southern state Democratic Parties. I also do campaign training all across the country. Even though my work keeps me away from Oklahoma, I am still at home as often as possible."

Appointed by chairman Howard Dean as a member of the Democratic National Committee, Parmley was automatically awarded the role of superdelegate, Goodman said.

He said superdelegates were created to give people with long-term interest in the party, like Parmley, a chance to make a difference in the party.

"I count it a great honor to be a DNC member and look forward to casting a vote for our nominee for president and the next president of the United States," Parmley said.

Until Aug. 28 when the Democratic National Convention ends, America likely will have to wait to find out who the Democratic presidential candidate will be.

Goodman said the Republican primary is much simpler for three reasons: They do not have superdelegates, their primaries are winner-take-all, and they do not have as many caucuses.

He said although superdelegates seem to complicate matters, they have a purpose.

"We're really concentrating on everyone having a voice in the Democratic Party," Goodman said.

Parmley reflects Goodman's position on the party.

"I have always believed that government was good and that it was the appropriate vehicle to affect change in our lives, whether the issue be education, economic security, or health care," he said. "It just made sense to me that the Democratic Party cared about people and how to make our lives better as a collective citizenry."
© 2008 Oklahoma Daily via U-WIRE