- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Bernie Sanders does not appear to be winning favorite son status among Democratic insiders in his home state.

An Associated Press survey of superdelegates to next year’s Democratic National Convention finds three of Vermont’s 10 committed to Hillary Clinton. Two, including Sanders, are in the Sanders column and four are uncommitted.

Former Gov. Howard Dean, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, 2004 presidential candidate and also a superdelegate, did not respond to the survey, but has repeatedly endorsed Clinton. Including him would make the current tally four for Clinton, two for Sanders and four uncommitted.

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

Clinton had a huge lead, with 354 committed to her, versus seven for Sanders, two for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and 211 uncommitted.

Sanders did not dominate, even in the state that has sent him to the U.S. House eight times and the Senate twice - the last time, in 2012, with more than 71 percent of the vote.

In those elections, he ran as an independent, not a Democrat. At times, he has been critical of the party, accusing it of being too much like the Republicans, as during a 1986 run for governor in which he said, “It is time to stop the Tweedledee, Tweedledum politics of the Republican and Democratic parties.”

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. They are members of Congress and other elected officials, party leaders and members of the Democratic National Committee.

With 712 votes at the convention next summer, superdelegates make up about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

It had been known for some time that Clinton had the support of Vermont superdelegates Dean, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin. National committee member Billi Gosh of Brookfield said she supports Clinton, as well.

“Her experience as First Lady, as a U.S. Senator, and as Secretary of State make her incredibly well-qualified to be President of the United States,” Gosh said in an email.

The only Vermont superdelegate not named Sanders who described himself as committed to Sanders was Burlington lawyer Richard Cassidy, who praised Sanders’ stances on education, infrastructure and several other issues.

“Bernie stands up, without reservation, for the values that made me a Democrat more than 45 years ago. Democrats are - and should be - the party of the people,” Cassidy said in an email.

Two of the superdelegates said they’ll wait until voters have spoken in Vermont’s March 1 presidential primary before endorsing a candidate.

The delegates also were asked which Republican would present the strongest challenge in the general election. Four answered, with Cassidy picking Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while Dottie Deans and Tim Jerman, chairwoman and vice chairman of the state Democratic Committee, respectively, joined Gosh in picking Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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