- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A Maine delegate is telling donors ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention that there’s enough support for a floor vote on an amendment to abolish so-called superdelegates in future elections.

Democratic Rep. Diane Russell has gained national prominence for advocating against superdelegates - unelected delegates free to vote for the candidates of their choosing at the upcoming gathering in Philadelphia.

On Saturday, the DNC’s rules committee will debate an anti-superdelegate amendment submitted by Rhode Island state Rep. Aaron Regunberg. A progressive coalition says 53 committee members have signed onto the amendment - enough to send a minority report to convention delegates.

Regunberg said the ideal scenario would be sending the amendment to the floor with majority approval. The proposal would eliminate the section of the party’s charter creating superdelegates.

At Maine’s Democratic convention in May, Russell successfully sponsored a proposal to align superdelegates with the outcome of the state’s vote by 2020. Since then, she says 20 other state delegations have passed similar amendments.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is set to speak next week, has called to abolish the superdelegate system for giving too much power to party elites. He has also previously said he wanted to court superdelegates who have pledged support to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, whom he recently endorsed.

Sanders won Maine’s Democratic caucus with 64 percent of the vote, but four out of five superdelegates have pledged support to Clinton. Clinton, who has enough delegates to win the nomination, told the Washington Post in June that she’s open to having a discussion about changes to superdelegates after the DNC.

Russell - one of Maine’s 17 Sanders delegates - said this year’s superdelegates are mostly male and don’t include enough minorities.

In an email to supporters asking for $270 contributions for her, Russell said “my amendment” has more than 50 co-sponsors from the rules committee. She said the fight is about “keeping the political high ground in the fight against voter suppression and for expanded access to the ballot box.”

Russell did not respond to request for comment.

Troy Jackson, an Allagash logger seeking a return to the state Senate, said he supports abolishing superdelegates - even though he is one for Sanders.

“It’s a way for the elites of the party to try to keep control,” he said. “It’s a real serf kind of system and I can’t stand it.”

Jackson said he thinks the amendment’s chances are “slim, but it’s got a chance.”

Seth Berner, a Sanders delegate from Portland, said he doesn’t like the idea of “smart people” who can “correct the wishes of the population.”

But, he acknowledged that superdelegates who switch to Sanders may help him win, which he said he hopes still happens.

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