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Advocacy Group Presses Clinton Superdelegates To Vote For Sanders

Rep. Peter Welch
photo provided
Rep. Peter Welch says he is sticking with Sen. Sanders, unlike some Vermont superdelegates.

A Vermont advocacy group is calling on Vermont superdelegates who have committed to Hillary Clinton to instead support Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.  But the Clinton superdelegates don’t appear to be swayed.
Late last week Rights and Democracy Vermontwrote to the four Vermont superdelegates who support Clinton.  They are asking U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, former Governor Howard Dean, Governor Peter Shumlin and Democratic National Committeewoman Billie Gosh to back Sanders, who overwhelmingly won the Green Mountain State.  Burlington musician and Rights and Democracy member Julie Winn is not happy with their entrenched positions.   “I was not happy to see our Vermont superdelegates were continuing to pledge their superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton after Vermonters overwhelmingly voted in support of Bernie Sanders in our Democratic primary.  I just thought that that’s what the superdelegates should be a also supporting: the will of Vermonters and the will of the people.  And I had seen online that other folks were also putting some pressure on their superdelegates in those states that had overwhelming support for Bernie Sanders. So that's something that other folks are also petitioning in their states.”

Senator Leahy supports Clinton.  According to a report published in Vermont Digger his campaign spokesperson Carolyn Dwyer “…claimed no one actually asked Leahy how he would vote as a superdelegate.”  The newspaper then links to a February 15th interview in which Leahy states he would vote for Clinton even if Sanders won the state primary.  

Democratic National Committeewoman Gosh is also firmly committed to Clinton.  “I don't blame them.  They’re trying to get as many superdelegates as they can to come on to Bernie’s side. Right now it doesn't make any sense for me to change my allegiance because she's ahead by two hundred thirty pledged delegates and it looks like the numbers are going to work for her in the future and I'm convinced she's going to be our nominee.  So I promised her last August when I met with her that I was going to be her supporter and I’m not going to go back on that word.”

Winn points out that Sanders won every town and 86.1 percent of Vermont’s primary vote, obtaining the state’s 16 pledged delegates.  “It comes down to the will of the people. The superdelegates can say that they have the ability to vote for whoever they want and for the establishment and the Democratic Party. But that trumps the will of the people. And when it's such a close race I think every vote matters and our superdelegates should really be standing with Vermonters. I mean 86.1 percent of Vermonters voted for Bernie Sanders. Vermonters are not happy with these superdelegates and the way that they're continuing to pledge their support for Hillary Clinton and go against what Vermonters have voted for.'

Not all of Vermont’s 26 superdelegates committed to Secretary Clinton.   17 have already pledged to support Sanders.  Five will be determined at a meeting in June and are expected to be pledged to Sanders.   Vermont Congressman Peter Welch told WAMC’s Alan Chartock recently why he’s supporting Sanders.   “I have known Bernie.  He and I began our career in elective office in the same year: 1981.  And I’m also a Vermonter.  He got 87 percent of the vote in Vermont and there’s a significant amount of Vermont pride.  So let’s give Bernie a shot. And that’s a major reason I’m endorsing him.”

Rights and Democracy had collected more than 4,800 signatures on its open letter to the superdelegates as of Wednesday morning.

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