Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett ended months of speculation about who his Democratic National Convention superdelegate vote will go to when he said through a spokeswoman Thursday that he will support Hillary Clinton.
Bartlett is the only one of Maine’s five superdelegates who had not previously voiced his preference.
“Secretary Clinton has secured the votes for the nomination and Chairman Bartlett is proud to support her,” wrote Democratic party spokeswoman Katie Baker in an email to the BDN. “He allowed the process to play out and he would have been equally proud to have supported Sen. [Bernie] Sanders had he secured the votes necessary for the nomination.”
It is of little surprise that the chairman of a state Democratic Party would support whoever the nominee is. Bartlett’s announcement comes as the Sanders campaign appears to be weighing its options. Sanders is reported to have a meeting scheduled with President Barack Obama today to discuss the future of his campaign — or presumably how and when to bow out.
Bartlett’s announcement also comes as he has publicly criticized Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District for Poliquin’s refusal so far to say whether or not he will endorse presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Two of Maine’s other superdelegates, Peggy Schaffer and Maggie Allen, said Thursday they will support Clinton. That’s no change from their previously stated position, though both in recent months have said they would cast their votes for whoever the nominee is at the convention in July.
“What is of interest will be what Sanders does after his discussion with Obama,” said Allen.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st Congressional District could not be immediately reached on Thursday but has said in the past that she will support whoever the obvious nominee is at the national convention. Pingree is an opponent of the superdelegate system and has said she will support the end of the practice for the next presidential election.
In May, attendees at the Democratic State Convention voted to force Maine’s superdelegates to vote proportionally according to the results of the state’s caucuses. The rule will take place in 2020.
Maine’s fifth and final superdelegate, former state Sen. Troy Jackson, who has been a vocal Sanders supporter, acknowledged Thursday that Sanders’ hopes of securing the nomination are very slim. He said he is troubled by the prospect of not voting for Sanders at the convention, but that might be what happens.
“It was never about Sanders or even Clinton so much. With Bernie it was about the issues that are going on in this country,” said Jackson. “I’m still torn. He’s trying to figure out a way to pull the Democratic Party back to the left and not just until the convention, but afterward.”
Jackson said Clinton could please some Sanders supporters with her choice for vice president.
“If [U.S. Senator from Massachusetts] Elizabeth Warren was chosen as the vice president, a lot of Sanders supporters would feel better about what’s going on,” said Jackson. “We know what [Clinton’s] track record is and it’s not enough.”
The Democratic National Convention begins July 25 in Philadelphia. During the Maine Democratic caucuses, Sanders won 64 percent of the vote and 17 of the state’s 25 pledged delegates. Superdelegates — also known as unpledged delegates — can vote for whomever they choose.