Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, the Associated Press is reporting, becoming the first woman ever nominated for president by a major U.S. party.
California, New Jersey, and four other states are holding Democratic primaries Tuesday, but even without any delegates from those, Clinton is the party’s presumptive nominee. The former U.S. senator and secretary of State has accumulated the 2,383 delegates needed for the nomination, according to the AP’s count. This includes 1,812 delegates won in state primaries and caucuses as well as 571 superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice.
NBC News is also calling Clinton the presumptive nominee. “The new tally includes pledges from over a dozen new superdelegates as well as her accumulation of 36 pledged delegates in Sunday’s Puerto Rico primary,” the network reports.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has 1,569 delegates — 1,521 won in primaries and caucuses, and 48 superdelegates, the AP reports. He has indicated that he plans to ask Clinton’s superdelegates to switch their allegiance to him and that he will stay in the race until the convention, to be held in Philadelphia in July. There is, however, “no precedent for a huge number of superdelegates switching sides,” NBC News notes. But a win in California, the nation’s most populous state, would strengthen his position. Some polls are showing Clinton and Sanders neck-and-neck in the state.
In a news conference Monday, Sanders said he “hoped to win” in California, though he added, “Let’s assess where we are after tomorrow before we make statements based on speculation,” The New York Times reports.
Later, after the Clinton news broke, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs downplayed it. “It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer," Briggs said in a statement, according to Politico.
Clinton’s nomination is a major milestone for women in the U.S., which granted women the nationwide right to vote less than a century ago and failed to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Women have run for president as the candidates of minor parties, but neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have ever put a woman in the top slot.
Geraldine Ferraro, a congresswoman from New York, was the Democrats' pick for vice president in 1984, as Walter Mondale's running mate. She was the first woman in a major party's number 2 spot. They lost, as did the first Republican ticket with a woman vice-presidential candidate — Sarah Palin and John McCain in 2008. The first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination was Democrat Shirley Chisholm, who like Ferraro was a U.S. House member from New York. Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. For the Republicans, U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine sought the presidential nomination in 1964.
Both Clinton and Sanders are strong LGBT rights supporters, but she has the endorsement of the nation's largest LGBT group, the Human Rights Campaign.
Clinton’s staff offered a measured response to the news that she had clinched the nomination. “This is an important milestone, but there are six states that are voting Tuesday, with millions of people heading to the polls, and Hillary Clinton is working to earn every vote,” said out campaign manager Robby Mook, according to NBC. “We look forward to Tuesday night, when Hillary Clinton will clinch not only a win in the popular vote, but also the majority of pledged delegates.”
And the Clinton campaign tweeted the following:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 7, 2016