Call it angst, which was the buzzword of choice for a while in the
Republican party, but has moved over in recent months and set up camp among Democrats.

The battle over the Democratic presidential nomination
turned nasty on Thursday, one day after Hillary Clinton donors subtly
threatened to stop the spigots for House Democrats if Speaker Nancy
Pelosi insists superdelegates vote the same way as pledged delegates.

For purposes of accuracy, it was nasty before Thursday. It’s getting nastier.

Liberal group MoveOn.org — which has endorsed Barack
Obama — issued a letter to its members, asking them to sign on to a
statement that says millionaire donors shouldn’t dictate how the race
is won. It also asked for members to match the money the donors would
otherwise supply.

“The Democratic nomination should be decided by the voters — not by
superdelegates or party high-rollers. We’ve given money — and time — to
progressive candidates and causes, and we’ll support Speaker Pelosi and
others who stand up for democracy in the Democratic Party,” reads the
statement.

What a battle. It pits the party stalwarts against the
self-proclaimed new guard who want a revolution and…are getting one.
This letter from big Democratic donors to Pelosi is clear in its intent.

BET founder Robert Johnson, a Clinton supporter who has
contributed $2 million to Democratic candidates over the years, and
signed onto the letter, said he will continue to contribute to the
party but it’s the superdelegates’ prerogative to choose who they want.

“The real issue is fundamental fairness in making sure that the
superdelegates carry out their role. They are not, as Nancy Pelosi,
would suggest ‘confirmation delegates.’ They are not robot delegates.
They are superdelegates whose charter authorizes them to analyze who
will be the better candidate of the two to run against the Republican
candidate and win the presidency,” Johnson said. He added that he has a
letter on his desk from Pelosi asking him to contribute $100,000 to the
national convention, but he has not decided yet whether he will donate.

Never mind, says MoveOn, there’s a small donor revolution going on that will make up the difference.

As the battle rages, here’s the latest from the next big battleground state.

In a surprise move, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania
has endorsed Senator Barack Obama in advance of the April 22 Democratic
primary. Mr. Casey had said he would remain neutral in the race in part
because he wanted to help broker a reconciliation between Mr. Obama and
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton afterward.

So what changed? He was going to wait.

But a person close to Mr. Casey said that the Senator
had traveled to Florida over Easter and that rain had forced him to
stay inside and he began to think more seriously about an endorsement.
“He spent a lot of time thinking about it,” this person said, and he
came to the conclusion that the race was “too important” to remain on
the sidelines.

So this is one race advanced due to a rain delay. At least, for Obama.

Will Casey’s endorsement matter in Pennsylvania? That’s the idea.

He is joining Mr. Obama today as he begins a six-day bus
trip across Pennsylvania and plans to be with him for about three days
as Mr. Obama meets up with just the kind of blue collar, Catholic men
who have eluded Mr. Obama.

Mr. Casey won the state in 2006 with 59 percent of the vote. The
fact that he is a strong opponent of abortion rights may give these
voters cover to back Mr. Obama both now and in the fall against Senator
John McCain, the putative Republican nominee, who also opposes abortion
rights.

This is the New York Times, which explains the terminology. At least
they broached the subject of Bob Casey Sr., a staunch pro-life Democrat.

Mr. Casey’s father, the state’s former governor, had a
chilly relationship with Mrs. Clinton’s husband dating from Mr.
Clinton’s first campaign for president in 1992. The elder Mr. Casey was
strongly against abortion rights and did not approve of Mr. Clinton,
who in turn shut Mr. Casey out of the Democratic convention.

That deserves more attention, because Gov. Casey represents the kind of pro-life Democrat just about absent from party influence.

Because he considered abortion a key social issue for
the 1992 presidential election, Casey sought a speaking slot to give a
minority plank on the topic at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.
He was not given a speaking spot and in a series of news conferences he
said the party was censoring his pro-life views since he agreed with
the party on nearly all other issues. Convention organizers said that
Casey was not denied a spot because of his views on abortion, but
because they wanted speakers to have endorsed Bill Clinton ahead of
time, which Casey had not done. After the convention, Casey went on
vacation rather than campaign for Clinton in Pennsylvania, which was a
key swing state. However, he told the New York Times, “I support the
ticket. Period.” Although several pro-life Democrats did speak at the
convention, they did not focus their remarks on their opposition to
abortion, and the issue was not debated the way Casey had wanted.

And so went the principled politics of a prominent pro-life
Democrat, which the party needs again to reclaim its former
reputation for being great advocates for the weak and vulnerable.
Surely, some of those Catholics that elude Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton
remember that.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....