- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada delegates who are free to choose whichever candidate they would like at the Democratic National Convention next year are either backing Hillary Rodham Clinton or not saying who they would support, according to an Associated Press survey.

The state has eight of the nation’s 712 Democratic “superdelegates,” who are not bound to vote for anyone in particular next summer at the party convention and are party insiders or elected Democrats. Five say they are holding off on endorsing a candidate and three are vocal Clinton backers. None are publicly backing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Clinton’s “breadth of knowledge, depth of compassion and strength of purpose are unparalleled among her contemporaries,” said Rep. Dina Titus, who is publicly endorsed Clinton, along with fellow Nevada superdelegates Andres Ramirez and Ruben Kihuen. “She has never looked for a way out but instead sought to find a way in. That’s why we need this woman in the White House.”

The Associated Press contacted all 712 superdelegates nationally in the past two weeks, and heard back from more than 80 percent. Out of that, 359 are committed to Clinton, eight are supporting Sanders, two are backing O’Malley and 210 are uncommitted.

The 712 superdelegates make up about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. That means that more than two months before voting starts, Clinton already has 15 percent of the delegates she needs.

The five uncommitted delegates in Nevada include Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, union activist Artie Blanco and state Democratic Party chief Roberta Lange. Lange and Reid said they were focused on staging a successful Nevada caucus in February and didn’t want to endorse until after that, while Blanco said she doesn’t want to endorse until after her employer, AFL-CIO, makes an announcement.

Uncommitted delegate and former U.S. House candidate Erin Bilbray-Kohn said she was leaning toward Clinton, pointing to her work founding Emerge Nevada, a group dedicated to training and electing Democratic women to office. But the energy behind the Sanders campaign gives her pause - she said she was inspired by the smart and accomplished supporters who attended a recent Sanders campaign organizing meeting in Nevada.

“I’m very impressed with the grass-roots operation of Bernie Sanders,” she said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt something that exciting.”

Delegate Chris Wicker, former chair of the Washoe County Democratic Party, is also uncommitted for now but said the competition between Sanders and Clinton was good for the party.

“I’m happy to see it looks like we’re going to have a real primary, and I think that’s helpful in getting people interested in the election,” he said.

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This story has been corrected to show that O’Malley is a former Maryland governor.

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