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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 04/21/2008

Thomas Explains Switch From Clinton to Obama

Harry Thomas Jr. told the D.C. Wire yesterday that he decided to throw his "superdelegate" support behind Barack Obama last week to honor the "will of his constituents."

Thomas, the council member for Ward 5, had gotten the pot boiling in the District when, after winning a superdelegate seat to the Democratic Convention by just two votes, he announced he was not sure whom he would be supporting, Obama or Clinton. Thomas had declared himself a Clinton supporter early on.

Being an unpledged superdelegate of course put Thomas in the spotlight and he was flooded with calls and emails from District residents, where Obama had soundly defeated Clinton in the District primary.

Thomas also got some primetime with the candidates themselves. He said he spoke with Obama

the week before the Philadelphia debate and with Clinton on the morning of the debate. That's when he told her of his decision.

"She was understanding about it," Thomas told the Wire. His family, he said, had been longtime Clinton supporters. "My father and mother were delegates for Clinton when he first ran, and our family supported her when she ran for senate. There's a lot of history there."

But Thomas said he told the former first lady that he could not go against the will of his constituents. He went public with his decision at a debate watch party.

"What's happening with Barack is more of a movement than a campaign, and going against it at the convention would do more damage to the party than what happened in Florida" in 2000, Thomas said, noting that the future of the party could be at risk.

"I had to make a decision about that campaign and move on," he said, "and get back to the business of dealing with these deaths we're having in Ward 5." The area has had a disturbing rash of deaths in recent days. Thomas had already called for a crime emergency a few weeks back.

The council member seems to be on the move lately--literally. D.C. Wire caught up with Thomas in Little Rock, Ark., yesterday, where he was attending a conference for the National Forum of Black Public Administrators.

By Marcia Davis  |  07:00 AM ET, 04/21/2008

Categories:  D.C. Council, D.C. Council

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