With the Democratic presidential nomination effectively wrapped up, Hillary Clinton’s campaign still urged supporters to vote in yesterday’s nominating contests and bring a definitive end to her protracted primary battle against Bernie Sanders.
Clinton secured enough delegates to win the nomination before yesterday’s voting, US media outlets reported on Monday night.
But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said they were pushing supporters and volunteers to “stay at this” for the contests in New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and California – where she still risks a loss to Sanders.
A former US secretary of state, Clinton would be the first woman presidential candidate of a major US political party.
California was the biggest prize yesterday – the last and largest state to vote in what became a surprisingly tough Democratic primary race to pick a nominee for the November 8 presidential election.
If Sanders, who was trailing in polls in California until recently, won the state, it could hamper Clinton’s ability to unify the party ahead of its convention next month.
Clinton is anxious to turn her full attention to the general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“We will look forward tonight to marking having reached the threshold of a majority of the pledged delegates,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN, referring to delegates won in primary contests.
“And at that point, Bernie Sanders will be out of our race.”
Clinton secured the endorsement yesterday of Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, who withheld her support until voting day.
President Barack Obama was eager to start campaigning, the White House said, but wanted to give voters an opportunity to cast ballots before weighing in on the Democratic race.
Despite growing pressure from party luminaries to exit the race, Sanders, a US senator from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, has vowed to continue the fight until the party convention that formally picks the nominee.
He has commanded huge crowds in parks and stadiums, galvanising younger voters with promises to address economic inequality.
But Clinton has continued to edge him out, particularly among older voters with longer ties to the Democratic Party. Her more pragmatic campaign has focused on building on Obama’s policies.
After the Associated Press (AP) and NBC reported on Monday night that Clinton had clinched the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, a Sanders campaign spokesman castigated what he said was the media’s “rush to judgment”.
Under Democratic National Committee rules, most delegates to the party’s July 25 to 28 convention are awarded by popular votes in state-by-state elections, and Clinton has a clear lead in those “pledged” delegates.
But the delegate count, where Clinton’s support outnumbers Sanders’s by more than 10 to one, also includes “superdelegates” – party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors – who in theory can change their mind at any time.
For that reason, the DNC has echoed the Sanders campaign, saying the superdelegates should not be counted until they actually vote at the Philadelphia convention.
In practice, superdelegates who have announced their intention are unlikely to change their minds.
The AP and NBC reported that Clinton had reached the 2383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico, a US territory, and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates.