NC, Indiana rewarded for later contests

May 5, 2008 8:05:26 PM PDT
Good things such as Democratic delegates come to those who wait. North Carolina, which holds its primary Tuesday, got an additional 24 delegates for moving its presidential nominating contest from April to May. Indiana, which also has its primary Tuesday, got six extra delegates for keeping its primary in May. North Carolina has 115 pledged delegates at stake, Indiana has 72.

If only Florida and Michigan had the same foresight.

"In retrospect it was the right decision to make," North Carolina Democratic Chairman Jerry Meek said Monday of the choice made months ago. But, he added, "I don't think anybody anticipated the presidential primary would be competitive."

With Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama locked in a historic battle for the Democratic nomination, the late-voting states are being rewarded with competitive races and extra delegates.

The extra delegates were part of the Democratic Party's efforts to control the nominating calendar, which got a bit chaotic with states moving contests earlier in an attempt to increase their influence.

Michigan and Florida were stripped of all their delegates for violating party rules by holding primaries before Feb. 5 ? a decision the Democratic National Committee's rules panel will revisit at the end of the month.

Pennsylvania, which voted two weeks ago, got seven extra delegates for holding a late contest. Kentucky, Oregon and Puerto Rico, which all have contests in the next month, each got four extra delegates. Even Guam, which voted over the weekend, got one.

On Tuesday, North Carolina and Indiana will award delegates proportionally, based on the statewide vote as well as the vote in individual congressional districts.

Obama leads in the overall race for delegates with 1,745.5, including endorsements from party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton has 1,608, according to the latest tally by The Associated Press.

The breakdown:

Pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses: Obama, 1,490.5; Clinton, 1,338.5.

Superdelegates: Obama, 255; Clinton, 269.5.

The number of superdelegates increased to 796 Saturday when Democrat Don Cazayoux of Louisiana was elected to fill the seat in the House vacated by the resignation of Republican Rep. Richard Baker.

That increases the overall number of Democratic delegates to 4,049. The number needed to secure the nomination remains at 2,025.