Parkite helps put Obama in lead
May 13, 2008
Four years ago, with her husband in a Chicago hospital, Kristi Cumming passed some of the time watching the local news.
Barack Obama was bidding for the Senate, and Chicago was buzzing about the hometown Democrat. Cumming was mesmerized.
"He spoke to my heart. I didn’t even know anything about him," says Cumming, an Obama supporter who lives in the Old Ranch Road neighborhood in the Snyderville Basin.
Cumming on Friday, in an unexpected political development, became one of Utah’s Democratic superdelegates, putting the 41-year-old former U.S. Ski Team racer in a crucial position in the party’s nominating contest between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The superdelegates — mostly high-ranking politicians and party insiders — will likely decide who leads the Democratic ticket in November. Cumming’s selection came as Obama secured superdelegates in other states, and her allegiance helped place him ahead of Clinton in the superdelegate tally, according to an Associated Press article with a link from the Obama campaign’s Web site early in the week.
The state Democratic Party on Friday unanimously picked Cumming as the last of Utah’s six superdelegates, a spokesperson for the state Democrats says. Twenty-three regular delegates from Utah will also be seated at this summer’s party convention in Denver.
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Superdelegates cast nominating votes for their preferred candidate, and their vote is not tied to the results of state primaries and caucuses.
Wayne Holland, the chairman of the state Democrats, credits Cumming’s selection with the fundraising efforts of she and her husband, John. They hosted Obama at their house for an August fundraiser on the same day the candidate held a well-attended rally outside the Utah Olympic Park.
Cumming says the supporters at her house for Obama’s appearance received him well. He was personable that day as he spoke to the contributors, she says.
"When I see him speak on TV, when I met him here, I have this gut feeling it’s someone I can trust," she says, acknowledging Obama’s charisma is more of a draw for her than the overarching parts of his political platform, which she says resemble those of Clinton.
Holland, who tapped Cumming as a superdelegate, says the event at the house brought in more than $250,000 for the Obama campaign. He says the appearance in Utah "quadrupled the enthusiasm" for Utah’s Democratic primary, which Obama won in February.
"I think the Cummings deserve that for all the work they did," Holland says about her selection as a superdelegate. "I’m going to be very proud. I wanted this to work for a couple weeks."
Cumming admits she was initially leery of her selection, saying becoming a superdelegate will take time from her three young children. She hopes the Obama-Clinton contest will be finished before the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver. She says the drawn-out competition for the nomination hurts the party.
"I’m not going to predict how it’s going to play out," she says. "I have no idea."
Cumming: Mitt’s all right, too
Barack Obama supporter Kristi Cumming, selected by state Democrats to be a superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention, in 2007 gave money to Republican Mitt Romney, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The Romney campaign reported the $2,300 donation from Cumming on April 10, 2007, as the former 2002 Winter Olympic chief and Park City homeowner was raising money for his unsuccessful bid for the GOP’s nomination.
Cumming says her husband, John, and Romney are friends. He donated to the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign on behalf of himself and Cumming during a fundraiser, she says.
In exchange for her agreeing to put her name on the $2,300 donation to Romney, she and her husband hosted an Obama fundraiser at their house, she says.
Romney remains popular in the Park City area from his Olympic days, and other local Democrats supported his campaign.
Cumming, meanwhile, gave $2,300 to Obama rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Nov. 21, 2007. She says she and her husband went to a Clinton fundraiser in Glenwild with former President Bill Clinton in attendance. Her husband also gave $2,300 to the Clinton campaign that day, she says.
Other Democrats Cumming gave money to include Rep. Jim Matheson, Sen. Harry Reid and Howard Dean, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2004.