Politics & Government

Kansas Democratic superdelegates all sign with Team Clinton

People line up outside Coleman Middle School in March for the Democratic caucus. Kansas’ superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention have signed on with Hillary Clinton despite a near 7-3 victory margin for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state caucus.
People line up outside Coleman Middle School in March for the Democratic caucus. Kansas’ superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention have signed on with Hillary Clinton despite a near 7-3 victory margin for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state caucus. File photo

Kansas’ four superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention have all signed on with Hillary Clinton following Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ departure from the presidential race, the party announced Saturday.

Party Chair Lee Kinch, Vice Chair Melody Miller and National Committeeman Bill Roy were previously undeclared on whether they would support Clinton or Sanders at the convention, which begins July 25 in Philadelphia.

The fourth superdelegate, National Committeewoman Teresa Krusor, has been with Clinton from the start. She was also a Clinton delegate in 2008, when Clinton dueled with then-Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.

In a statement issued by the party’s state office Saturday, Kinch praised Clinton’s “intelligence, experience, knowledge of the issues, foreign and domestic, and her toughness.”

He also praised Sanders for bringing thousands of young voters into the political process and “raising critically important issues of inequality, healthcare, climate change, college tuition, minimum wage, fair trade agreements, campaign finance corruption and many others.”

Superdelegates are party leaders and officeholders who get a voting seat at the convention by virtue of their positions. They can support whomever they choose, unlike “pledged” delegates selected by voters in the state party caucus.

After squeezing out some concessions in the party platform, Sanders exited the hard-fought race Tuesday and endorsed Clinton against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton ended what had been a quandary for Kansas superdelegates: side with Clinton, the presumptive nominee, or go with Sanders, the choice of nearly seven out of 10 of the state’s caucus voters.

The governor’s office and all six Kansas congressional and Senate seats are in Republican hands, meaning that only the four state Democratic Party leaders are eligible for superdelegate status.

Overall, superdelegates make up about 15 percent of Democratic convention delegates.

Their existence as part of the nominating process has come under fire this year from Sanders supporters, who complained that the overwhelming majority of superdelegates aligned themselves with Clinton early, giving her a built-in lead and damaging Sanders’ chance at winning the nomination.

Although Clinton ended the primary season with a substantial lead over Sanders in pledged delegates, neither candidate could have won the nomination without superdelegate support.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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