- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Power players within the California Democratic Party are already lining up behind former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination next year, more than half a year ahead of the party convention to officially choose a nominee, a survey by The Associated Press finds.

More than half of California’s superdelegates who will choose a candidate at the Democratic National Convention next year told the AP they are endorsing Clinton over the other two contenders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t think we have ever had a candidate who is this qualified and has these kinds of credentials to be the president of the United States,” Rep. Janice Hahn said of Clinton. “Some would think she’s overqualified.”

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.

Associated Press reporters reached out to all 712 superdelegates during the past two weeks, and heard back from more than 80 percent of them. The AP found that 359 of the delegates have committed to Clinton.

Longtime party activist Bob Mulholland also has endorsed Clinton, but said he hopes Sanders makes it a contest, at least through early primaries, to better prepare the nominee for the general election and keep Democrats in the public spotlight.

“I’m very happy we have opponents. No one wins the World Series without spring training,” said Mulholland, of Chico.

Fourteen of the 71 superdelegates in California responded to the survey but said they remained uncommitted. They include Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, a vice-chair in the California Democratic Party who said she is leaning toward Clinton but hasn’t decided yet.

Economic inequality, especially for Hispanics, is a key issue for her and Sanders “is appealing to a lot of folks, including myself, because he is talking what everybody is thinking.”

She said she wants “to hear more from Hillary on what she believes.”


Associated Press writers Janie Har in San Francisco, Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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