Harry Reid: There Could Be a Brokered Convention in Philly This Summer

Sen. Harry Reid says the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is so close it might not be decided in time for the DNC.

Candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the October 13, 2015, Democratic debate.

Candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the October 13, 2015, Democratic debate.

The Democratic National Convention will be in Philly this summer. The city will have some nice new things for the attendees, but so far the announced plans have been limited to fiberglass donkeys.

But! Speaking on CNN yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) gave us a preview of what could be political intrigue this summer: He predicted there could be a brokered convention!

Some backstory: The two parties’ national conventions are where delegates and superdelegates vote for the person who’s going to represent the party in the presidential election that November. Delegates are chosen by the voters in primary elections and caucuses. Superdelegates are automatically seated at the convention due to their status as current or former party leaders and are free to vote for whoever. In recent years, the conventions have been pretty much just a coronation for whichever candidate is going to take that party’s nomination.

But! What if one candidate doesn’t acquire a majority of delegates before the convention? Then, the convention would have to be “brokered” — decided at the actual convention. This has been floated a lot during this primary season, for the Republicans: The GOP had, at one point, 17 candidates and the current frontrunner is businessman and occasional WWE character Donald Trump.

But now Reid, citing the close race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, says the Democratic convention could be brokered, too.

“These races go on for a long long time,” Reid said. When asked if that included a brokered convention, he responded “Sure, seriously some of the old conventions produced some good people.”

Reid also said, “It would be kind of fun.”

Of course, political reporters love a brokered convention. They speculate about it almost every year. Eight years ago pundits said the convention could be brokered because of the close race between Clinton and Barack Obama. It wasn’t. Politicians are political junkies just like political reporters; Reid here sounds like he wants a brokered convention despite the turmoil it would cause. I mean, it would be fun!

The last brokered convention was in 1952, when Adlai Stevenson won the Democratic nomination. Even the 1968 Democratic National Convention was not technically brokered, as Hubert H. Humphrey was nominated. (Alabama football coach Bear Bryant received 1.5 votes, however.)

“I do think that this will continue to be a robust primary that will play out over the course of the next several months,” DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN. “But there were predictions of a brokered convention, a fight that would go all the way to the convention, in 2008 … and that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because this was wrapped up in a timely process through the normal primary schedule, and I think that will be the case here.”

Wasserman Schultz is right: There probably won’t be a brokered convention in Philly this summer. But it’s fun to root for chaos, so expect to hear about it more in the coming months.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.