MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders netted three more Vermont superdelegates Tuesday bringing his total un-pledged delegate tally to six and his total pledged and unplugged delegate count to 22 out of the state’s 26 available delegates to the national convention in July.
Secretary of State James Condos and Vermont Democratic Party Vice Chairman Tim Jerman, who represents Essex in the Vermont House, announced at a State House news conference Tuesday they plan to vote for the hometown presidential candidate. VDP Chairwoman Dottie Deans did not attend the news conference, but announced in an email to reporters that also plans to back Sanders.
Condos and Jerman cited Sanders’ overwhelming victory in the March 1 Vermont Primary in which he won 86 percent of the vote. His Democratic primary rival, Hillary Clinton, did not reach the 15 percent threshold to secure pledged delegates that are awarded to candidates on a proportional basis, so Sanders won all 16 of the state’s pledged delegates.
Condos said Sanders’ victory in the primary was “a powerful statement of support of the voters” and noted the “enthusiasm and infusion of young adults” Sanders has brought to the race.
“On Super Tuesday, Vermonters have spoken unequivocally when they voted. Today, I am supporting and committing my delegate vote to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders received a clear and unprecedented support from the voters of Vermont,” Condos said. “It’s unprecedented for a candidate to win their own state by such an immense margin. In a stunning show of support Bernie also won every single town in the state.”
Jerman, in announcing his support for Sanders, said the state’s final delegate outcome will produce “an almost exact mirroring of the Vermont primary vote.”
“Bernie Sanders is the overwhelming choice of Vermonters and I, too, said early on that I would wait until Vermont had official spoken through our primary results to announce an endorsement. Today I pledge to support Sen. Bernie Sanders for president of the United States,” Jerman said.
Jerman, like other superdelegates, said he will back Clinton if it becomes clear that she has secured the nomination.
“If Bernie Sanders voluntarily withdraws his candidacy before the national Democratic convention, I will, of course, support our other great candidate, Hillary Clinton. Un-pledged delegates to Mrs. Clinton have made the same commitment to actively support Bernie Sanders if he is the lone remaining candidate.”
Deans, meanwhile, wrote in her email that her vote was based on Sanders’ “Vermont values.”
“I have listened to voters for both candidates and respect each opinion. Today I pledge my delegate support to Senator Bernie Sanders. He has brought Vermont values to the nation’s attention and he has passionately focused the nation’s attention on the inequalities and challenges that have become too commonplace for many people in our country,” she wrote.
Sanders already had the backing of himself, Democratic National Committee delegate Richard Cassidy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who made his announcement on Vermont Public Radio last month.
The addition of Condos, Jerman and Deans brings Sanders’ total superdelegate tally to 23 — far short of Clinton’s 461. There are 717 un-pledged superdelegates that are free to back any candidate they want. The list includes:
— 20 distinguished party leaders, including current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders and DNC chairs.
— 21 Democratic governors, including territorial governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C.
— 46 Democratic U.S. senators, including Washington, D.C., which do not vote.
— 193 Democratic members of the U.S. House, including non-voting delegates.
— 437 elected members of the Democratic National Committee, including the chairs and vice-chairs of each state’s Democratic Party.
DNC delegate Billi Gosh said she is planning to continue supporting Clinton, despite Sanders’ lopsided victory in Vermont.
“My plan is to still stick with Hillary,” Gosh said Tuesday. “I’m with Hillary because I think she is going to win the popular vote.”
Gosh said superdelegates have never swung a primary to a candidate that has not finished first in pledged delegates. Gosh said she, and other superdelegates, will switch to Sanders if he were to overtake Clinton in pledged delegates.
“That is what I did in 2008. I supported Obama at the convention when it was obvious Hillary didn’t have the pledged delegates,” she said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy also plan to stick with their public endorsements of Clinton, as will Howard Dean, a former governor and the former chairman of the DNC.
Jerman said he plans to work at refining the delegate process, but did not specify what changes could be made.
“As a member of the DNC … I do have concerns about the perception of unfairness about the process and I will work to promote changes at the national level,” he said.