Taylor unlikely to make commitment as Dem. superdelegate

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Mississippi congressman, who’s a Democratic superdelegate, says he probably won’t attend his party’s national convention this summer.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said he might not even vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in the fall.

“I just try to use my time well. I just don’t know what I would accomplish by spending three days (at the convention),” Taylor said in an interview Monday.

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Taylor has been in Congress since 1989 and is a conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat who often bucks his own party on the budget and other issues. He represents a south Mississippi district that has gone for Republicans in recent presidential elections.

Taylor also said he is mad at the presumptive presidential nominees — Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona — because they skipped a vote on legislation to add wind coverage to the federal flood insurance program.

Taylor said Obama, McCain and other senators might get a chance to vote on the proposal again before the Nov. 4 general election.

“We’re going to watch them very closely,” Taylor said.

Taylor has not made a habit of attending Democratic National Conventions.

Usually, he lets a staff member go in his place, but if he doesn’t attend, his vote as a superdelegate goes unused. The convention this year is set for Aug. 25-28 in Denver — just before the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.

Taylor lives in Bay St. Louis, which was heavily damaged by Katrina. He said that during hurricane season, he’d rather spend his time working for his district than attending a convention.

Democratic superdelegates are elected or party officials. So far, five of Mississippi’s seven superdelegates have declared their support for Obama, who effectively clinched the party’s nomination last week. None declared for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who suspended her campaign Saturday.

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Travis Childers remains uncommitted as a superdelegate, and has not said whether he will pledge his support to a candidate.

At the state Democratic convention this past weekend, party members voted to send Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to the national convention as an “add-on” delegate. He can decide on his own whether he’ll vote for Obama or withhold his vote in Denver. Party officials said Hood did not immediately announce his intentions.

Mississippi’s 33 pledged delegates were awarded proportionally during the March 11 primary. Obama got 20 and Clinton got 13.