Most Alaska superdelegates undecided on candidate pick

  • By By BECKY BOHRER
  • Friday, November 13, 2015 11:43am
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska — Three of the Alaska delegates free to support whomever they want as the Democrats’ nominee for president say they still haven’t made up their mind. The fourth has a preferred candidate, but isn’t sharing yet.

Nationally, most superdelegates reached by The Associated Press who have a preference said they planned to support former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the national convention next year. Superdelegates can support the candidate of their choice regardless of what happens in their states’ primaries or caucuses. Superdelegates are members of Congress and other elected officials, party leaders and members of the Democratic National Committee.

Superdelegates have 712 votes at the national convention and comprise about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. AP reporters reached out to all 712 superdelegates during the past two weeks, and heard back from more than 80 percent of them. Of those, 359 planned to support Clinton, eight planned to support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and two planned to support former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; 210 were uncommitted.

Three of Alaska’s four super delegates, Kim Metcalfe of Juneau; Casey Steinau of Big Lake; and Ian Olson of Fairbanks said they’re still uncommitted. The fourth, party chairman Mike Wenstrup, said he has a preferred candidate, but isn’t publicly endorsing, citing his position within the party and desire to give voters a chance to evaluate the candidates on their own.

Metcalfe said Clinton and Sanders are both very good candidates. “I want to hang back and see what happens,” she said. “I just don’t want to jump right in.”

Steinau said Sanders and O’Malley are both strong leaders with solid records of leadership, which she says Clinton, too, possesses. “Also, elected leadership, as opposed to anyone who’s leading on the Republican side,” she said. Clinton is also a former U.S. senator from New York.

Olson said he’s divided. When he could first register to vote in 1992, he did so as a Democrat because he was inspired by Bill Clinton. He feels partial to Hillary Clinton primarily because of her record. But he also sees her ability to become the first female president as an “undeniable opportunity for America and for the Democratic party,” he said.

That said he sees Sanders inspiring youth the way that President Barack Obama did in 2008, and he said he thinks it’s important to get youth more involved in electoral politics. He said he appreciated O’Malley’s push to get the Democratic National Committee leadership to allow for more debates.

He feels he owes it to the party to hear what Democrats have to say before settling on a candidate and said he wants to represent the party membership’s views.

Steinau expects to end up supporting the person she thinks will represent her as an individual, her community as a Democrat and her position as an American.

She said the Democrats have an “amazing” group of candidates. She’s waiting to see who stands out a bit more than the others and is looking forward to the rest of the debates.

At the national convention, Alaska will have 20 total delegates, 16 of which will be pledged based on the results on the March 26 caucuses and the state convention.

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