- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Hillary Clinton has public support from a third of South Carolina’s Democratic superdelegates, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

The survey conducted earlier this month, found that two of the state’s six superdelegates have pledged their support to Clinton. She is seeking the party’s nomination over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Of the five who responded to the AP’s survey, two said they support Clinton. Former state House Rep. Boyd Brown is an O’Malley supporter. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter are uncommitted.

One superdelegate, Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, did not respond.

Superdelegates are Democratic National Convention delegates who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of what happens in primaries and caucuses. They are members of Congress and other elected officials, party leaders and Democratic National Committee members.

Nationwide, AP reporters reached out to all 712 superdelegates during the past two weeks, and heard back from 80 percent of them. The delegates were asked which candidate they plan to support at the convention next summer.

The results, overall:

Clinton: 349.

Sanders: 7.

O’Malley: 2.

Uncommitted: 210.

That sizable lead reflects Clinton’s advantage among the Democratic Party establishment, an edge that has helped the 2016 front-runner build a massive campaign organization, hire top staff and win coveted local endorsements.

Brown, one of the only two avowed O’Malley supporters nationally, called the former governor “the clear and sane choice” for Democrats in the general election, saying Clinton is plagued by scandal and Sanders is a “proud Socialist.”

“I certainly have reservations about Hillary Clinton,’” Brown said. “I think a Clinton campaign and presidency would be shrouded in scandal, whether well-founded or not, and it is time for America to start working again.”

As is their standard practice, Clyburn and Cobb-Hunter said they would remain uncommitted during the primary process. Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he would again support Clinton, as he did in 2008.

“She is the best trained and tested person in the Democratic Party except for her husband and President Obama,” Fowler said. “She could win a mud wrestling contest with Putin and can outwit any Nobel winner around. That should cover the reasons.”

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This story has been corrected to show one third rather than one half of superdelegates support Clinton.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnard . Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard

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