Politics & Government

North Carolina ‘superdelegate’ Pat Cotham endorses Sanders for Democratic nomination

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham speaks at the Women's Equality Day, Tuesday August 25, 2014 at the square in uptown Charlotte. Cotham, a North Carolina “superdelegate,” is backing Bernie Sanders for president.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham speaks at the Women's Equality Day, Tuesday August 25, 2014 at the square in uptown Charlotte. Cotham, a North Carolina “superdelegate,” is backing Bernie Sanders for president. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Now that Hillary Clinton has become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, North Carolina “superdelegate” Pat Cotham has decided to endorse ... Bernie Sanders.

Cotham, a Mecklenburg County commissioner and a member of the Democratic National Committee, said she and her fellow Democrats have underestimated Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee. And in most polls, Cotham said, Clinton “is not as strong” against Trump as Sanders is.

“We want to beat Trump,” she said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Cotham said she will support whomever the party nominates in late July at its national convention in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday night, Clinton claimed she had made history – becoming the first woman about to be nominated for president by a major party – after winning primaries, and delegates, in California, New Jersey and other states.

But Sanders, in his own Tuesday speech, told supporters he would compete in next Tuesday’s primary in Washington, D.C., and carry his “revolution” for change in policies to the Democratic convention next month

According to the Associated Press and several other media organizations, Clinton now has more than the 2,383 delegates needed to get the nomination.

Still, Cotham said, “I’m going to be a Sanders (vote) at the Democratic National Convention.”

As a member of the DNC, Cotham has been granted superdelegate status, meaning she can vote for whomever she wants. The great majority of the 719 superdelegates – party leaders and Democratic governors and members of Congress – have endorsed Clinton. Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and a superdelegate himself, has criticized the idea of superdelegates as undemocratic, but has also lobbied those who have come out for Clinton to switch their allegiance to him because of polls showing him with a wider lead over Trump.

Clinton, a former secretary of State, easily beat Sanders, 55 percent to 41 percent, in the North Carolina presidential primary in March. Of North Carolina’s 13 superdelegates, nine have endorsed Clinton, including U.S. Rep. Alma Adams.

Cotham joins DNC member Jake Quinn of Asheville as the state’s only superdelegates who have endorsed Sanders.

“Yes, (Clinton) did carry North Carolina,” Cotham said, “but there should be a nod to all the people (in the state) who voted for Sanders.”

Cotham decided on Sanders this week as the Associated Press was calling – and re-calling – delegates to determine whether Clinton had reached the magic number of 2,383.

“AP was calling me every two hours,” Cotham said. “They were texting me and emailing me. It was constant.”

Cotham notified the Sanders campaign about her decision, and shortly after that got a call from Politico, the national news website.

After Politico broke the Cotham story, “my Twitter just blew up,” she said, with positive tweets and retweets from Sanders supporters.

In the days before North Carolina’s primary, Cotham attended Charlotte rallies for both Sanders and Clinton.

But in recent weeks, as she was out campaigning for her daughter, state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who was running for Congress in the 12th district, she said Democrats shared with her their concern about Trump.

“Until March, nobody took Trump seriously, including me,” Pat Cotham said. “Then the conversation changed. ... Many women said, ‘I wanted a woman, but more than I want a woman president, I want someone who can beat Trump.’ 

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