- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Hillary Clinton is widening her commanding lead nationally among superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, but at least one of Oklahoma’s four superdelegates says she is “feeling the Bern.”

Former state Sen. Connie Johnson, a superdelegate because she is vice chair of the state party, says she intends to support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his bid for the nomination.

“I made up my mind,” said Johnson, the 2014 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. “His stance on issues that matter to the people I’ve worked with over the years, especially issues like criminal justice reform, his stance on the death penalty, his support for reforming marijuana policies and refusal to accept contributions from big corporate interests, his support for the minimum-wage increase. Those are things that all play in the background of African-American and poor communities.”

Oklahoma has four superdelegates who automatically attend the convention and can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of whom primary voters back.

National Committeewoman Betty McElderry, another Oklahoma superdelegate, has said she intends to support Clinton.

“Her experiences as the first lady, as an outstanding secretary of state, as a U.S. senator from New York, I think she has varied experiences that prepare her to be a very strong, wonderful president,” McElderry said. “She’s also very concerned about the middle class and the poor, bringing up the poverty level.”

Oklahoma’s two other superdelegates - Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons and National Committeeman Jim Frasier - remain uncommitted.

“I’ve still got an open mind,” Frasier said. “One of them will get my vote, but I don’t know when they’ll get my commitment.”

As party chairman, Hammons said it would be inappropriate for him to endorse a candidate before Oklahoma’s March 1 primary.

“We’ll be proud of whoever carries the Democratic banner,” Hammons said.

After the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders has a 36-32 lead among delegates won in primaries and caucuses. But when superdelegates are included, Clinton leads 481-55, according to a new Associated Press survey.

There are 712 superdelegates, which is about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to claim the nomination.

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Follow Sean Murphy at https://twitter.com/apseanmurphy


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