Koryne Horbal, the 71-year-old founder of the DFL Feminist Caucus, doesn't care whether her idea costs Democrats the White House.
Though she acknowledges it is a difficult sell, Horbal said she and other feminists are promising not to vote for Barack Obama and write in Hillary Rodham Clinton's name in November if the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations are not fully seated at the Democratic National Convention and Obama becomes the presidential nominee.
A petition drive to get feminists across the country to make a similar pledge began Friday, she said.
The petition drive comes as Democratic leaders meet today to discuss what to do with the delegations from the two states, a political drama seen by many as Clinton's last hope to win the nomination. Clinton supporters want to seat all 368 delegates from the two states -- which could be a boon for her -- but party officials have penalized Florida and Michigan for moving up their primaries this year without authorization.
"I don't care," Horbal said of the possibility that the move might cost Obama votes. She said she also would not be bothered if the write-in campaign indirectly helped elect John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. "Let McCain clean it up for four years, and then we can have Hillary run again," she said.
"This is a democracy. You cannot let two states not vote," said Horbal, who lives in Columbia Heights and first gained DFL prominence as the party's state co-chair in the late 1960s. She also served for nine years on the Democratic National Committee in the 1970s. "It's more about democracy than anything else."
She also said, however, that Clinton remains the better candidate: "This woman is ready, and Obama is not ready."
"You have to do what you have to do," she added.
Horbal said she has enlisted the support of Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 was the first woman to be a major party vice presidential candidate as Democrat Walter Mondale's running mate. Ferraro resigned as a fundraiser for Clinton's campaign in March after making racially charged remarks regarding Obama.
Horbal conceded that many party officials, including other feminists, were not rushing to her side. "There's just not many feminists who [have] a backbone," said Horbal, who jokingly described herself as a "professional troublemaker."
In Minnesota, state DFL party chair Brian Melendez declined Friday to comment on Horbal's move.
Rosemary Rocco, a longtime DFL activist from Maple Grove, said she had joined Horbal. "We've always been asked to go along," she said of feminists. "It's one time too many.
"We do 70 percent of the work, probably, and it is time -- it is time -- that you hear what we say," said Rocco. "We've had 43 men [as president] and, regardless of his color, that's who Barack Obama is.
"I'll feel sad," Rocco said of the possibility that the move could cost Democrats the White House. "But I will feel like I finally said, "No, I'm not doing it one more time.'"
Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388