- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Hillary Clinton is the early favorite of Democratic Party insiders in North Carolina four months before the state’s presidential primary, according to an Associated Press survey of the state party’s superdelegates.

Five of the state Democratic Party’s 14 superdelegates said they are backing the former secretary of state at the party’s presidential nominating convention next summer. Five others remain uncommitted, including state party chairwoman Patsy Keever, who said she’s prohibited from endorsing a candidate for president until after the March 15 primary. Four others didn’t respond to messages.

Superdelegates are delegates to the Democratic National Convention who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of what happens in the primaries and caucuses in their states. They are elected officials and members of the Democratic National Committee. Superdelegates make up about 30 percent of the nearly 2,400 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

Clinton is able to provide the stability the country needs to advance, national committeewoman Akilah Ensley said in explaining her choice. Although the former secretary of state may not be new or different, Ensley said she would take Clinton “any day over a trend.”

Former federal banking regulator Jake Quinn remains uncommitted. He said his ultimate choice will be based on who is most likely to help Democratic candidates running for statewide office, including governor, by exciting voters to get to the polls.

Nationally, the AP reached out to all 712 superdelegates during the past two weeks, and heard back from 80 percent of them. The results show Clinton leading with 359 backers; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with 8; former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley with 2; and another 210 uncommitted.

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