A House Divided: Democratic Families Split on Choices

During this primary season, registered Democrats have hit the polls in record numbers and their passion for their candidates — Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — has been striking. These deep feelings also have meant family fights.

Shazia Khan and her husband, Samir Kanani, are both Democrats, but they are unable to stop fighting about politics.

While Khan supports Obama, Kanani is a hard-core Clinton supporter. Their interest and passion for this election cycle even permeated a recent vacation when they watched a debate in their hotel room.

The heated exchanges on air between Obama and Clinton paled in comparison to the banter between Khan and Kanani, who were first interviewed by The New York Times.


"We were getting pretty heated there. We were calling each other names. I think they sent security after us to kind of keep it down," Kanani said.

Kanani said he would be gracious if his candidate won, but his wife strongly disagrees.

"No, you won't," Khan said. "He'll try to rub it in my face."

Famous Family Splits

Khan and Kanani aren't the only Democrats finding it difficult to agree on candidates. Choosing between Clinton and Obama has become a Democratic family affliction.

Rep Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y, backs Clinton. His wife, Alma, is with Obama.

While Jesse Jackson and one of his sons side with Obama, his wife, Jacqueline, and another son support Clinton.

The division, which has chopped entire family trees in half, also has taken root in the Kennedy clan.

Obama received endorsements from Ted, Ethel, Patrick and Caroline, while Clinton gathered Kathleen, Bobby Jr. and Kerry.

Even deceased Kennedys have gotten in on the act. A Clinton ad features Bobby Kennedy and Obama has one with Camelot king and boomer favorite John F. Kennedy.

Some disputing relatives have found an interesting way to deal with their politics. Democratic California Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez and her sister Linda Sanchez have taken bets to settle their score.

"Whoever loses has to clean the other's room for a week," said Linda Sanchez, who supports Obama.

"Thank God I'm going to win because if I had to clean her — her room — it would take me a month," joked Clinton supporter Loretta Sanchez.

The Democratic dispute has even touched one couple that used to work in the Clinton White House.

The Clintons threw an engagement party for Maria Echaveste and Christopher Edley, and while Echaveste backs Clinton, Edley supports Obama.

"He operates from an inner framework of values, a moral compass that I think is absolutely critical in that job," said Edley, who taught Obama in law school.

"I sort of bristle a little bit when Christopher talks about Obama's centerness and sense of values and there is an implied criticism that Hillary Clinton doesn't know who she is and doesn't have values," Echaveste said.

The debate between Democrats likely will continue even after Super Tuesday because the nominee probably won't be decided tonight. So, these houses will be divided a while longer.