Penn Dems' Move To Endorse Debated

This story was written by Colin Kavanaugh And Emily Schultheis, Daily Pennsylvanian
Penn Democrats will endorse a candidate for president next week, the organization announced Monday - but there is still debate about whether it is too soon for such an endorsement, or whether the group should endorse at all.

Penn Dems will hold an endorsement meeting on March 5 for all active members.

Those voting at the meeting will choose between New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The endorsement will require a two-thirds majority, with the winner receiving "the full weight and effect of the organization's support," according to a press release.

The meeting was originally scheduled for today, but the Penn Dems Executive Board decided to postpone until after the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4.

College sophomore and Penn Dems Vice President Mukul Sharma said the organization "wanted to mobilize before spring break," but said it is important for members to be informed of the March 4 results before making a decision.

Despite this postponement, Penn for Hillary has expressed frustration at the Penn Dems' decision to endorse a candidate, at least at present.

"We still feel that it is premature [for the Penn Dems] to make an endorsement," said Penn for Hillary communications director Patrick Bauer.

"We think that the Penn Dems should have an important role in this upcoming election, but we think the candidates should have the chance to make their case to Pennsylvania students," said Bauer, a College freshman.

Bauer added that Penn for Hillary believes that, thus far, both Clinton and Obama have been able to focus their attention on issues important to particular states, such as Ohio and Texas.

Those two states are viewed as critical in the Democratic race, with both believed to be must-wins for Clinton to maintain her viability as a candidate.

Bauer said the candidates should be given the same chance here in Pennsylvania before the Penn Dems vote to endorse.

But Penn Dems President and College sophomore Lauren Burdette denied any conflict with Penn for Hillary.

"I feel that we have a good relationship with Penn for Hillary," she said. "We obviously took them into consideration when we were making our decision."

Sharma said the Penn Dems Board had reached a unanimous decision that the Penn Dems would endorse a candidate.

He cited the "unprecedented nature" of the race for the Democratic nomination, as well as the likely importance of the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.

Previously, the Penn Dems endorsed Mayor Michael Nutter in 2007 and Congressman Patrick Murphy in 2006. During the 2006 election, the Penn Dems provided volunteers who registered voters and knocked on more than 15,000 doors.

Similar efforts will be made on behalf of the presidential candidate chosen by Penn Democrats members next Wednesday.

Penn for Obama does not seem to have opposed the endorsement decision and could not be reached for comment.
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE