AP Exclusive: Democratic superdelegates in Ohio line up for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid

In this Nov. 9, 2015, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledges supporters after filing papers to be on the Nation's earliest presidential primary ballot at The Secretary of State's office in Concord, N.H. Clinton has locked up public support from half of the Democratic insiders who cast ballots at the party’s national convention, giving her a commanding advantage over her rivals for the party’s presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
In this Nov. 9, 2015, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledges supporters after filing papers to be on the Nation's earliest presidential primary ballot at The Secretary of State's office in Concord, N.H. Clinton has locked up public support from half of the Democratic insiders who cast ballots at the party’s national convention, giving her a commanding advantage over her rivals for the party’s presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

CINCINNATI (AP) — With Ohio’s presidential primary four months away, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a big advantage among some key state Democrats.

An Associated Press survey of Ohio’s 16 “superdelegates” finds 12 support the former secretary of state. The other four remain undecided, including the state party chairman and vice chairwoman who plan to remain neutral during the primary season.

A nationwide AP survey also shows Clinton with a commanding early lead among superdelegates, who include office holders and party insiders. Those responding favored Clinton by a 45-to-1 margin. Superdelegates make up some 30 percent of the delegates needed to clinch the nomination. They aren’t bound by primary results.

Clinton has history and ties to build on in Ohio. She defeated Barack Obama in Ohio’s 2008 Democratic primary, and her husband Bill twice carried the swing state. The state’s superdelegates include David Wilhelm, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who was the Clinton-Gore campaign manager in 1992, and Butler County Democratic chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro, a political staffer in the Clinton White House.

Clinton’s backers say they’re very optimistic about her leading the state ticket next November.

“She’s the most qualified person probably to ever run for president,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of northeast Ohio. “Her depth of knowledge on the issues along with the personal relationships she has with members of Congress from both sides, and the global experience she has, makes her uniquely qualified.”

Several of the Ohio superdelegates said she has a record of steadfast support for working families and passion for women’s and children’s issues.

“I’m very excited about her running and seeing her become the first female president,” Bucaro said.

Former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said he was impressed with her during the House hearings on Benghazi and in the Democratic debates.

“She has just presented herself in such a strong and commanding way, it is clear to me that she is very well-equipped to be president,” Mallory said.

Party Chairman David Pepper said he’s also met with supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and said the state party’s focus is getting a “ground game” organized for the eventual Democratic nominee, whether it’s Clinton, Sanders or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. He said party officials also have been reaching out to those who worked for Obama’s successful Ohio campaigns to get ready for the general election.

The last Democrat to win the White House without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960.

While the state party plans to stay neutral, one of its officials has endorsed Sanders. Cleveland.com reported Thursday that former state Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland said after earlier efforts on Clinton’s behalf, she is endorsing Sanders because she likes his message and his style. Turner, who isn’t a superdelegate, will take a leave from her role as the party’s engagement chairwoman.

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