Super showdown

Today’s Democratic caucus in Hawaii and presidential primary in Wisconsin should line up more delegates behind Barack Obama and further build his case for his party’s nomination.

Yet New York Sen. Hillary Clinton still leads him in superdelegates, the aristocracy of the party that includes various chairpersons, governors, members of Congress and former elected officials. Whatever happened to the conventional wisdom that her support is from beer-drinking, Dunkin’ Donuts Democrats while his comes from wine-quaffing Starbucks sippers?

The more states Clinton loses, the more likely she is to lose some of the supers who have already come out in support of her. Because their pledges to a candidate are not binding until the national convention, there’s enough wiggle room for some prominent black leaders to begin to rethink the Obama candidacy.

Speaking Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Obama joked, “Superdelegates doesn’t mean that they should leap over the will of the people in a single bound.”

Nor do they have the ability to foresee which candidate will actually win the most regular delegates in the caucus and primary season.

And if Obama continues his winning ways today in his birth state (Hawaii) and a neighbor to three states he’s already won (Wisconsin), it’ll be hard for Clinton to keep some uncommitted superdelegates away from him.

Rules are rules, but it’s a pretty hard pill for Democrats to swallow when the one losing so many states by such big margins still holds the lead in superdelegates.

As attention turns to the big caches of delegates in Texas and quadrennial battleground Ohio, Obama may wish to paint his opponent less like Lex Luthor and more like Syndrome, the villain in Pixar’s Oscar-winning “The Incredibles”: “And when everyone’s super,” Syndrome snarls, “no one will be.”

If you go top to bottom in some states, the supers (delegates, that is) comprise a fair amount of less-than-super people. How else would you describe the super status of former Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, who is now under investigation for a host of public misdeeds?

At any rate, the race is far from over, and if Clinton is banking on supers to get the nomination, she may need yet another new campaign manager.

Not so super

At some point, the term “Gibbons administration” will have to be considered an oxymoron. Last week, three more members of the governor’s inner sanctum fled.

Melissa Subbotin, Jim Gibbons’ press secretary, said she’s leaving at the end of the month to pursue unspecified other opportunities.

Unfortunately for Gibbons, it’s a leap year, so Subbotin will still technically be responsible for talking to the media for one more day than normal.

Because his other communications job has been left unfilled, Gibbons may just play the budget card and not fill Subbotin’s position, either. It’s debatable whether having a communications team would actually engender more access in the hush-hush paranoia of the Capitol.

Donna Rise spent about nine months looking for a way out after Gibbons tapped her to be Agriculture secretary. Given that so much of the state’s farming is up in so-called Gibbons Country, it’s hard to imagine she ran into any guff in the rurals.

“When I took the job, it was with the intent of finishing out my career, as director, for the next 15 years,” Rise said in a departure statement. “One cannot, however, predict whether a role or experience is a good fit until such time as they are tried.”

Then there’s the sorry case of Phil Galeoto, swept back from Baghdad for a midnight Jan. 1 swearing in at Gibbons’ house. Galeoto, a once-disgraced cop from Reno who went off to remake his reputation in the Middle East, was Gibbons’ first appointment, as director of public safety. Galeoto has suddenly, at 61, decided to retire and spend more time with his family.

His resignation in the 1990s from the Reno Police Department amid an investigation into why he wasn’t entering arrest warrants into computers didn’t sway Gibbons from appointing him to head up the state’s Highway Patrol, Parole and Probation and other key agencies under the public safety umbrella.

The attorney general’s office also just happens to be investigating something out of the ordinary in DPS after Galeoto, rather belatedly, sent it over for a look. Channel 8 reported last month that AG investigators were trying to get to the bottom of missing drugs and guns from a Fallon evidence vault controlled by DPS.

By the time we get to the bottom of that, Gibbons may have lost even more administrators.

It’s already easier to count those who are remaining than those who’ve left, and we’re only a little more than a year into the Gibbons era.

There’s no question Gibbons is doing his part to rein in spending in these tough financial times. But who knew it would come from taking all those department heads off the payroll?

Contact Erin Neff at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at

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