- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ordinary residents of the nation’s capital don’t have much influence over who gets nominated to run for president. But the District of Columbia’s Democratic superdelegates - a mix of political strategists, union leaders and other power brokers - are lining up firmly behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, contributing to her overwhelming lead among the party establishment.

Of Washington’s 25 superdelegates, 14 have already endorsed Clinton. Just one is supporting Bernie Sanders, while the rest are uncommitted.

The District’s presidential primary will be held in June, long after the nomination is likely to be decided, and the nation’s capital historically receives scant attention from presidential candidates.

Nonetheless, many influential party members call Washington home - and overwhelmingly, they’re for Clinton.

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 delegates were asked which candidate they plan to support at the convention next summer. More than half endorsed Clinton, while Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have 10 superdelegates combined.

Some of the Clinton superdelegates who call Washington home have a long history with her, including Harold Ickes, who served as White House deputy chief of staff under Bill Clinton, and political consultants Maria Cardona and Minyon Moore, both of whom worked on her 2008 campaign.

“It was not a tough decision for me,” Cardona said. “I have for a very long time thought that she would make a terrific president.”

Others are newer to the Clinton camp, notably Jeff Berman, a strategist who played a key role in Barack Obama’s victory over Clinton in the 2008 primaries. He’s now a consultant to Clinton’s campaign.

Also backing Clinton are union leaders whose endorsements bring votes and campaign contributions: Lily Eskelsen Garcia and Carrie Pugh of the National Education Association; Lee Saunders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; another longtime AFSCME official, Steve Regenstreif; and James Boland of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

The lone Sanders supporter among Washington’s superdelegates is also a union stalwart: Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers of America. He’s advising Sanders on labor issues.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress, has endorsed Clinton. Other local leaders have yet to formally endorse her, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council member Anita Bonds.


Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols .

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