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Arizona Democrats look to national convention after selecting final delegates

The Arizona Democratic Party elected the final 25 of its delegates to July’s national convention, but the numbers had to reflect results of the March 22 election, under party rules. (Cronkite News Photo/Wafa Shahid)

PHOENIX –- Arizona Democrats gathered Saturday to choose the final delegates for the Democratic National Convention, in what one party official said was the largest turnout of would-be delegates she could remember.

“This is most applicants for delegate we’ve ever seen in Arizona, to my knowledge,” said Sheila Healy, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party. “It’s really exciting so many people want to be part of the process.”

The outcome of that process was never in doubt, as the final number of delegates elected Saturday had to split according to the the popular vote in the March 22 presidential preference election, according to party rules.

In that vote, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took 56 percent of the vote to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 41 percent.

The 25 delegates elected Saturday were party leaders and elected officials who are pledged to one candidate or the other. Clinton got 14 of those elected Saturday to Sanders’ 11.

Six alternate delegates elected Saturday were split evenly between the two candidates.

That brings the total number of Arizona delegates to the Democratic National Convention to 85, of which 75 are apportioned according to the popular vote. The remaining 10 “super” delegates are party officials who can vote however they like at the convention.

Despite the sometimes heated exchanges between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns in the ongoing primary, the mood at Saturday’s event was more excited than confrontational. But that doesn’t mean Sanders delegates have thrown in the towel.

“I don’t think either Hillary or Bernie will go into Philadelphia with the pledge delegates that are needed,” said Dan O’Neal, a Sanders delegate at the convention. “It will be a contested convention.

While Clinton has not officially locked up the nomination, Sanders chances of getting the 2,383 needed to win are growing increasingly slim. After voting Tuesday in Oregon and Kentucky, Clinton had 2,291 delegates – 524 of them superdelegates — to Sanders’ 1,488 (only 40 superdelegates).

State primary elections will continue until June 14. The national convention will be held July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

Arizona party leaders spent much of Saturday’s convention gearing up for the national convention, talking about logistics like hotel accommodations and a breakdown of the convention layout.

“I’m really excited for Philadelphia,” Healy said, “and I’m excited to work really hard for whoever our Democratic nominee is.”

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