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Columbia Missourian

Six Missouri superdelegates still up for grabs

By MATT TILDEN
March 5, 2008 | 8:48 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — State Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal says she’s 99 percent sure she will be going to the Democratic National Convention without endorsing a presidential candidate. And she’s not alone.

One of Missouri’s prized Democratic superdelegates, the Democrat from St. Louis County said she has been offered private meetings with Sen. Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, but has refused to meet with either campaign and is waiting for the rest of the country to decide before making an endorsement.

“I really do think that the people of this country and the territories that belong to this country should ultimately decide,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Chappelle-Nadal said she’s noticed an absence of discussion about the death penalty, nursing home care, unethical treatment of animals and the budget deficit. She said she hopes Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton will begin to address issues important to her.

She’s one of six Missouri Democratic superdelegates who remain unpledged more than a month after the Missouri primary, and many show no sign of coming close to making a decision.

The state has 16 superdelegates, with four apiece pledged to Clinton and Obama. Six are undecided, and two will be named at the state convention next month, Missouri Democratic spokesperson Jack Cardetti said.

The other five undecided superdelegates are U.S Rep. Ike Skelton; Secretary of State Robin Carnahan; John Temporiti, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party; Yolanda Wheat, vice chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party; and Leila Medley, political director for the Missouri National Education Association.

Cardetti said that as the state chairman, Temporiti will remain neutral throughout the national primaries.

Medley said she’s as undecided as the general public when looking at Obama and Clinton and waiting for one of them to take up the mantle of former Sen. John Edwards’ platform before making a decision.

Pledged delegates from the Feb. 5 primary are also deadlocked, at 36 apiece, Cardetti said.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, Obama’s Missouri co-chairman and pledged Obama superdelegate, said that regardless of the superdelegate mathematics, the campaign is Obama’s. Clay said that later this week, Obama will gain the support of 50 undecided Democratic superdelegates.

“She (Sen. Clinton) will not make up those numbers,” Clay said. “This race is over.”

U.S Rep. Emanuel Cleaver has been a Clinton supporter since August, his spokesperson Danny Rotert said. Rotert cites Cleaver’s long history with the Clintons as a major reason for support.

“Whoever the next president is, they will inherit a huge mess on day one,” Rotert said. “(Cleaver) believes Sen. Clinton will be more than up to the challenge.”