Sanders Picks Up First N.H. Superdelegate: State Party Vice Chair, Sen. Fuller Clark

Jun 2, 2016

State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth.

About three months after the primary and two months ahead of the Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders has picked up his first New Hampshire superdelegate — Martha Fuller Clark, a state senator from Portsmouth and the vice chair of the state party.

New Hampshire has a total of 32 delegates for the national convention. Most are divided up based on the results of the primary, but eight are “superdelegates” —  and they’re free to back any candidate. Until Fuller Clark’s announcement this week, six of the state’s eight superdelegates were publicly backing Hillary Clinton. 

According to NPR's delegate tracker, Clinton leads Sanders in both pledged delegates (1,832 to 1,552) and unpledged delegates (544 to 45). The candidates need at least 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination.

New Hampshire State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley is the only remaining superdelegate. Under DNC rules, Buckley is not allowed to endorse because of his status as a vice chair to the national party.

On Thursday, Fuller Clark explained her decision to back Sanders in a post on her public Facebook page — pointing to the Vermont senator’s appeal among young people, and his positions on reducing income inequality, getting big money out of politics and promoting free higher education.

But in endorsing Sanders, Fuller Clark didn’t completely reject his opponent. She called both Sanders and Clinton "formidable candidates," and said she plans to join with other New Hampshire delegates in supporting whoever ends up as the nominee.

While not going so far as to endorse him at the time, Fuller Clark did praise Sanders' approach in the days following his landslide New Hampshire victory. 

"I would hope that would rub off on all of us who are running for office, that we can be more direct and more clear about what we stand for and be willing to take greater risks," Fuller Clark said at the time.

Separately, another prominent, previously neutral Democratic state lawmaker announced his endorsement of Clinton earlier this week.

House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff, of Concord, didn’t pick sides during the primary but rallied around Clinton’s candidacy on Tuesday at a press conference designed to challenge Republican Donald Trump’s stance on veterans’ issues. Shurtleff, himself a Vietnam veteran, said he was "troubled" by Trump's earlier comments about Sen. John McCain's status as a prisoner of war and his more recent claims around donations to veterans' charities, as reported by NH1 News.