Hillary Clinton has suspended her presidential campaign, endorsed Barack Obama, thrown her "full support" behind him, and called upon her supporters all across the country to join her in doing "all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States." But here in Washington State, Clinton's 28 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver are, according to one of the group's leaders, still waiting for a clearer sign from on high.

Absent some further instructions from Clinton, these delegates all plan to vote for her, not Obama, at the convention in late August.

"We're waiting for our cues from her," Paul Berendt, the former state Democratic Party chair and current leader of the Clinton pledged delegate group, told me.

What's going on here? In part, it seems to be a tactical maneuver, an attempt by a group of dedicated Clinton delegates to withhold their convention votes from Obama, for now, in an effort to pressure Obama into picking Clinton as his vice presidential nominee. "We're hardcore in our belief that Hillary should be on the ticket as the vice president," Berendt told me. Another member of the group, Linda Mitchell, head of the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington, said: "I need to wait and see what happens. Is Hillary the vice president?"

Another part of this, however, is lingering resentment among the Clinton delegates over what they feel was gross mistreatment of their candidate by the media and a lack of work by other Democrats to soothe their hurt feelings. Mitchell complained that the Clinton supporters felt "disrespected" and "invisible" at the Democrats' state convention in Spokane the weekend of June 14. And Berendt told me, "Hillary Clinton was here and she stood for something... For people who are committed to her for reasons that were important, they don't feel that's been acknowledged. When that happens, I think you'll see a beautiful renaissance of support in the Democratic Party for Barack Obama."

The fact is that Clinton has already urged this type of renaissance, telling her supporters to back Obama—at least in general. These Washington State delegates, however, have looked closely at Clinton's campaign-ending speech from June 7, in which Clinton recognized Obama as the victor in the Democratic primary, and found the speech lacking in specific directions to national Clinton delegates such as themselves. "I will do whatever she wants me to do," Mitchell told me, but quickly added that she is still, at the very least, waiting for an official "release" from Clinton before she will consider voting for Obama.

This notion of a losing candidate "releasing" delegates has a long tradition in Democratic politics, even if the action is somewhat beside the point; convention delegates can vote however they want in any case. But the Clinton campaign, for its part, seems not to be pushing back against the type of effort underway among the Washington delegates, nor is it talking, yet, about "release." The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the plans of the Washington State Clinton delegation.

With Clinton having collected over 1,500 pledged delegates over the course of her run for the nomination, a widespread application of the Washington delegates' plan at the Denver convention could prove embarrassing for the Obama campaign—which also did not respond to a request for comment.

Imagine more than 1,500 committed Democrats refusing to get behind the nominee in Denver. It would certainly not be the televised image that party leaders are hoping for heading into the general election.

Dwight Pelz, the chair of the Washington State Democrats and an Obama-backing superdelegate, told me that he thinks the maneuvering of these Washington State Clinton delegates—who represent only about one-fourth of Washington's 97 Democratic delegates—is "sound and fury which signifieth little."

"I'm assuming this will all be amicably negotiated over the next two months before we go to Denver," Pelz told me.

And in the meantime, what of that highly prized notion of "party unity"?

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"It's not a contradiction to party unity," Pelz said. "I don't see this as an insurrection so much as a traditional show of respect to a candidate who has gained a lot of delegates and still has not released them yet."

eli@thestranger.com