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Leahy's Campaign Says His Superdelegate Support Will Follow Majority

J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Patrick Leahy, shown here in Washington, D.C., on March 16, now says that he'll cast his superdelegate vote for whichever candidate gets more "pledged" delegate votes.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s has changed his stance on how he will cast his superdelegate vote since a February news conference in which he said he would vote for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention regardless of how Vermonters voted.

“One of the touchstones of our family – I learned it from my grandparents, I learned it from my parents, and I’ve tried to teach my children – is you keep your word, “ Leahy said Feb. 15 in Burlington. “Long before Senator Sanders ever said he was going to run, I urged then-secretary Clinton to run and told her I’d support her. I think anybody who knows me, anybody who knows my years as state’s attorney or my years in the Senate, knows I’d never break my word.”

In March, Leahy political advisor Carolyn Dwyer told the Associated Press that the senator will cast his superdelegate vote for whichever candidate gets more “pledged” delegate votes. Pledged delegates are assigned to candidates based on how the candidates did in the primary elections in their state. Vermont has 26 delegates, 10 of which are “super,” meaning they can vote for whichever candidate they want to regardless of how their home state voted.
Use the players below to hear Leahy's February comments on his support for Hillary Clinton.

Leahy’s February stance – that he will vote for Clinton regardless of how the popular vote went in Vermont – drew heavy criticism. The senior senator isn’t alone in facing the critics, however. Former Gov. Howard Dean, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Democratic National Committee member Billi Gosh have all said they’ll support Clinton despite Vermont’s overwhelming support for Sanders.

At no point in his February news conference did Leahy indicate that he would cast his 
superdelegate vote for anyone other than Clinton.

Last week, more than 3,000 people signed onto an open letter publicized by the progressive advocacy group Rights and Democracy. The letter, addressed to Vermont’s superdelegates, called on the four Vermont superdelegates who support Clinton to change their vote.

“To be a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ our political leaders and elected officials must uphold the will of the people, especially when it is expressed so decisively through the ballot box,” the letter said, in part.

Leahy’s campaign staff  now says that while the senator’s personal support remains with Clinton, he will vote with the majority of pledged delegates. The other pro-Clinton superdelegates have indicatedthat their vote remains with Clinton.

Update 2:30 p.m. The phrase "in reversal" was removed from the headline. And the story was changed to note that Leahy had not said in February that he would vote as a superdelegate for anyone other than Hillary Clinton. 

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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