Remaining Vermont superdelegates pick a side: Sanders

Secretary of State Jim Condos, left, and Democratic Rep. Tim Jerman announce their support of Bernie Sanders as superdelegates on Tuesday at the Statehouse. Photo by Jasper Craven/VTDigger

Vermont’s three remaining undeclared superdelegates backed Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, making his Green Mountain State primary victory the only one so far where a majority of the state’s superdelegates are reflecting the will of the voters.

The support from Rep. Tim Jerman, Secretary of State Jim Condos and Vermont Democratic Party Chair Dottie Deans gives Sanders the superdelegate edge over Hillary Clinton in the state, six to four.

When Sanders’ large electoral margin of victory in last week’s Democratic primary — around 84 percent — is factored into the total delegate count, he takes 22 of Vermont’s 26 delegates.

“It’s unprecedented for a candidate to win their own state by such an immense margin,” Condos said in a news conference Tuesday. “In the stunning show of support, Bernie also won every single town in the state.”

Deans said her support was personal and did not amount to an endorsement from the state Democratic Party.

“(Sanders) 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 said.

The Tuesday pledges were all influenced by Sanders’ strong electoral showing in Vermont. Jerman and Condos said they had received letters urging support for Sanders and had been directed to a MoveOn.org petition demanding superdelegates follow the will of the voters.

The delegates said no Clinton or Sanders staffers had lobbied for their support. Nick Carter, Sanders’ political outreach director, who is responsible for delegates, attended the Statehouse announcement and declined to comment.

The three other Vermont superdelegates backing Sanders are U.S. Rep. Peter Welch; Richard Cassidy, a lawyer who served in the administration of former Gov. Howard Dean; and Sanders himself, who as a member of the state’s congressional delegation is granted a vote.

Clinton’s four Vermont superdelegates are U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Dean and Billi Gosh.

A vocal contingent of Sanders supporters has criticized Clinton’s Vermont superdelegates for not following the will of the people. Over the weekend, Dean got into a heated Twitter war over his support for Clinton, with one critic writing, “You continue to bury what little reputation you had left with the Progressives.”

At Sanders’ Super Tuesday primary party in Essex last week, a supporter held a sign critical of the state’s senior U.S. senator. It read, “Pat Leahy, why aren’t you here?”

On Tuesday, Condos and Jerman said their Sanders support was not influenced by the backlash aimed at Clinton’s superdelegates, but both identified issues with the superdelegate system. Condos said he wished the system were completely proportional, and Jerman said he had “concerns about the perception of unfairness about the process, and I will work to promote changes at the national level.”

Clinton leads Sanders in proportional delegates, 672 to 477, according to The New York Times. When superdelegates are factored in, Clinton’s lead becomes much larger, 1,130 to 499.

The Sanders campaign hopes to catch up in upcoming contests in large states like California and New York. He has also been campaigning aggressively in Michigan and hopes to net a good number of the state’s 147 delegates Tuesday night.

Advisers say that if Sanders can catch up to Clinton in Democratic delegates, they expect that her superdelegates will defect to the Vermont senator.

Jerman added a caveat in his endorsement, saying that if Sanders drops out before the Democratic National Convention in July he would back Clinton.

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Jasper Craven

About Jasper

Jasper Craven is VTDigger’s political reporter. A Vermont native, he first discovered his love for journalism at the Caledonian Record. He double-majored in print journalism and political science at Boston University, and worked in the Boston Globe’s Metro and Investigative units. While at the Globe he collaborated on Shadow Campus, a three-part investigative series focused on greed and mismanagement in Boston’s off-campus student housing market. The series was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.
He also spent two years at MuckRock, a news sited dedicated to investigation and analysis of government documents. 

Craven covered Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation for the Times Argus in the summer of 2014, and worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune before joining the staff of VTDigger.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Jasper on Twitter @Jasper_Craven

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  • Fred Woogmaster

    Patriotism over partisanship is the way that I see it. The “two party system” is destroying our democratic process. Those super delegates voting for Sanders are casting their votes for The People; not for the Party. Bravo!

  • Robert Hooper

    with such a commanding directive from the people of Vermont as to THEIR candidate of choice, it is a damn shame that ANY super delegate would be backing Clinton in the delegate count. These folks, ESPECIALLY the representative elected from the state Democratic committee, should be reflecting the intent of the state, not their personal desires or using their vote as a potential JOB application tool. That goes for BOTH sides of the aisle and the parties should pass resolutions stating so.

    Leahy made a promise eight years ago, and that has weight with me, but Shumlin and especially Gosh are out of line with their party and the folks who they are representing. Why Dean remains in the mix at all is a mystery to me.

    • Chris Silva

      Leahy made a promise to Vermont 40 years ago and that should have more weight.

  • Nick Partrick

    Dottie Deans: “(Sanders) 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 said.
    The 4 naysayers are simply playing the establishment game. Get on board and do what is right. SUPERdelegates? Not so much.

  • bruce wilkie

    The super delegate system is nothing more than a route for opportunists like shumlin and dean (lower case intended and appropriate) to secure a spot in a corrupt administration.
    Maybe shumlin could be nominated for secretary of sewers and oil slicks.

  • Gary Bressor

    It is so discouraging to see Leahy, Dean, Shumlin and Gosh want our support over the years, and after years of giving it, they thank Vermonters by giving us a collective “screw you, we know best.”

  • Chet Greenwood

    The superdelegate sham was created to protect the party from outsiders like Bernie. In Michigan, a huge win for Bernie and he gets 68 pledged delegates to Hillary’s 59 BUT 9 of 17 superdelegates are committed to Hillary so they are even at this point in delegates. The remaining 8 are uncommitted at this time. Hillary will come out with more delegates while losing the state!!! Could be an interesting convention!

  • Randy Koch

    What a stupid system! Did nobody stop to think how it would look for Sanders to win virtually a unanimous victory and then have our oligarchic political hacks, a worn-out Shumlin, the has-been Dean, teflon Leahy and the utterly irrelevant, inveterate Billie Gosh vote against the whole state. Isn’t it going to make them just a wee bit uncomfortable if they are ever out there mixing with, you know, Vermonters?

  • Azur Moulaert

    86% > You. What is the purpose of the Superdelegates if it is not reaffirming the will of the people? Hillary didn’t pick one delegate. Leahy, Shumlin, Dean and Gosh are completely out of line.

  • Kathy Callaghan

    Thank you Jim Condos and others for reflecting the will of the people instead of some political allegiance that has little to do with the demonstrated will of Vermonters. It feels at least in this case like “democracy” is alive and well.

  • rosemarie jackowski
  • Jim McGurn

    Bernie is Our Native Son and that happens once in a lifetime, so Vermont should send a unanimous delegation to Philly for him. The superdelegate flimflam is only there to thwart the People’s will and further a crooked, stacked system. Maybe the conventioneers at the State convention can fix it up and change the four small minds.

  • Ainslie Place

    “…a majority of the state’s superdelegates are reflecting the will of the voters.”

    We need to drop this fantasy that superdelegates are somehow obliged to reflect “the will of the voters.” Superdelegates act in the interest of the party and they are free to support any candidate they want for the nomination at the party’s convention. This is party politics, not electoral politics. The rules are made by the party. The will of the people will be reflected in November. As of today, despite Bernie’s win in Michigan, he is still in a deficit position. No amount of superdelegates can give Bernie a lead he does not have.

    • Tom Sullivan


      The super delegate system isn’t in anyway suppose to reflect the popular vote. If Bernie or his supporters don’t agree with the democratic super delegate system, then he shouldn’t have switched from an independent to a democrat. If you want to join the party, then you play by their rules.

      • Fred Woogmaster

        If one MUST join the (a) party in order to exercise one’s voice, American Democracy is a failing proposition. The power of money in politics IS obscene. Bernie Sanders has been sounding THAT alarm for decades. The Citizens United decision is an abomination and a blow struck against Democracy! The “super delegate system” is an invention of powerful insiders to further control the masses – and a first cousin of Citizens United.

    • Karl Riemer

      You’re wasting your breath. People who absolutely know they’re right, because they only talk to people who agree with them, are entitled to redefine whatever they don’t understand to align with what they wish were true. Because they are absolutely right, anyone who disagrees is obviously venal. Their definition of democracy is whatever suits their purpose at the moment. Right now, right here, that’s assuming they own the conscience and decision-making faculty of people not beholden to them at all.

      Unpledged delegates do not represent their state, their county, their town. They represent themselves and their only obligation is to the national party. No one knows what anyone’s true motives are, but if any of the unpledged delegates declared for no other reason than to glean votes for themselves or pacify their neighbors, those are the craven ones. Those are the ones failing in their responsibility.

      If you’re indignant, ask yourself why you vote the way you do. What would you think of someone who votes according to how his or her neighbors vote? What would you think of someone who threatens and denigrates others for voting their conscience?

  • Bryan Bouchard

    When Leahy runs for re-election in two years we should draft Peter Welch to run against him in the primary. That’s the way the 86 percent of us that voted for Bernie could send Leahy a real message!

    • robert bristow-johnson

      uhm Bryan, Leahy is up for re-election now. THIS election. now is the time for Vermont voters to send Pat a message.

      • Bryan Bouchard

        Leahy isn’t up for re-election until 2018. I’m pretty positive on that Robert.

        • robert fuller

          If he were up for re-election, he would have supported Bernie.

        • Bryan Bouchard

          I stand corrected. I hope someone is running against Leahy.

          • robert bristow-johnson

            so should we draft Peter Welch to run against /Sen Leahy in the August primary?

          • Fred Woogmaster

            I would prefer to see a credible candidate emerge from outside of “the establishment”. I would prefer a woman – just because! The “two party system” and its obscene funding is destroying American Democracy. Mr. Welsh’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders has elevated him in my eyes. however.

  • Gloria Moses

    The way Bernie has been treated by the media and by the so-called Democrats, there is no way I would vote for Hillary. My vote is with Bernie and that is the end. It would have been different in a fair process, but this has been far from fair. Then with Shumlin and Hillary and their plan for Shumlin, nope, I just can’t vote for her even if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination. He would then be my write in.

    • Karl Riemer

      Yes, massively and obviously unfair. The so-called Democrats (that is, the Democrats) let Sen. Sanders run as a Democrat, even though he isn’t a Democrat. They even made him a Democratic superdelegate, even though he isn’t a Democrat. There are subtle and calculated reasons for all this, it isn’t just a generous gesture, but they’d have been perfectly within their rights to tell him to go fry ice. The tenor of this whole discussion is that 116K Vermonters are being disenfranchised because the Democratic Party of the United States, or maybe the entire United States, isn’t catering to them. The overweening self-importance, and disdain for other people’s viewpoints, is positively staggering.

  • Fred Woogmaster

    Because of the Vermont vote in the primary, Vermont’s Superdelegates are committing a “moral” error by maintaining their allegiance to Hillary Clinton. When Mr. Shumlin defeated his (D) opponents in the primary of his first term, and then relegated his strongest foes to high positions in his administration, his moral spiral took a downward turn. When he campaigned he spoke of his adulation of Dr. Martin Luther King, and referred to times as a teenager when he recited MLK speeches in the closet of his room. Dr. King, a giant of a man, is, and always will be, a super hero to me. I voted for Shumlin! If Dr. King had not been killed, he might be a candidate for President today. The one thing I believe, for sure, is that Dr. King would share Bernie’s ideas of today. Return to your roots, Governor. Switch your vote to Bernie Sanders; for The People!