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Inside Politics

Survey: Kerry has delegates for nomination

Votes to be cast during summer convention

From Robert Yoon, Mark H. Rodeffer and Heather Riley
CNN Political Unit

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John F. Kerry
Democratic Party

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry has amassed enough delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a CNN survey.

Kerry's sweep of Tuesday's presidential primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas left him just 27 delegate votes shy of securing his party's official nod. But additional support since then from Democratic Party officials and officeholders known as superdelegates has boosted Kerry to at least the 2,162 delegate votes he needs at the Democratic National Convention this summer in Boston.

That's when the nomination becomes official.

The number of delegates Kerry has is expected to climb before then as he meets and strategizes with Democrats.

Of Kerry's total delegates, 1,781 came from his strong showing in this year's Democratic primaries and caucuses, while 380 are superdelegates. The remaining delegate vote comes from supporters in American Samoa and from Democrats living abroad, who each will cast a fraction of a vote at the convention.

Although Kerry, a four-term U.S. senator from Massachusetts, unofficially locked up the nomination after the March 2 Super Tuesday contests when his last major rival, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, suspended his campaign, a number of superdelegates had remained either uncommitted or supported other candidates and endorsed Kerry only recently.

"I was committed to Howard Dean, but I now support Senator Kerry 102 percent, and I'm going to support him 210 percent," said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, who announced her support for Kerry over the weekend, just prior to Tuesday's primary. "I plan to work harder than I've ever worked in my life for John Kerry."

Others were less enthusiastic, but still threw their support behind the presumptive nominee.

"Yes, I'm going to back John Kerry now that we know he's going to be our nominee," said Amy Burks, vice chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, who had been uncommitted. "There's no point flitting around."

Still others say that they will remain uncommitted until they can meet with or discuss various issues with Kerry.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams is holding off on a Kerry endorsement until he can discuss District of Columbia statehood and voting rights issues with the senator, according to the mayor's spokesman.

Rachel Binah, a retired bed-and-breakfast owner from Mendocino, California, wants a commitment from Kerry to ban off-shore drilling before she'll give her nod.

"I really want to support him. I think he's doing a good job," she said, "but I just must talk to him to get a commitment on these issues."

Edwards is second in the delegate hunt with a total of 534, about one-fourth of Kerry's total. Edwards won 511 delegates through primaries and caucuses and another 23 from superdelegates.

A number of people elected as Edwards delegates have indicated that they will cast their votes for Kerry at the convention. Edwards suspended his presidential bid on March 3, and endorsed Kerry. According to his campaign, Edwards was not releasing his delegates for "technical reasons," primarily to ensure that his delegates go to Kerry.

Dean, the former governor Vermont once viewed as the front-runner for the nomination, won 117 delegates through primaries and caucuses and has the support of 53 superdelegates, for a delegate total of 170.

Earlier this year, Dean hit a high-water mark of approximately 100 superdelegates, but his support among the party leaders steadily eroded after his losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and subsequent contests.

Dean suspended his campaign shortly after losing the Wisconsin primary last month. Unlike Edwards and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, another former Democratic contender, he has not endorsed Kerry and has urged his supporters to continue electing delegates under Dean's name in future contests.

Rounding out the count are Clark, who has 57 delegates, civil rights activist Al Sharpton with 27, and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio with 23. Kerry, Sharpton, and Kucinich are the only remaining Democrats actively seeking the nomination.

A total 4,322 delegate votes will be cast at the Democratic convention this summer in Boston.

The majority of those -- 3,520 -- will be cast by delegates elected in primaries and caucuses this year. The remaining 802 votes will be cast by superdelegates.

CNN began contacting the 719 known superdelegates in January, prior to the Iowa caucuses, in an ongoing survey. A total of 463 superdelegates indicated their support for a presidential candidate. The remaining 256 either remain neutral or undecided, or refuse to answer.

On the Republican side, President Bush clinched his party's nomination on Tuesday. Bush began the night with 985 delegates and scored 1,318 by the time polls closed, more than the 1,255 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nod. The president's home state of Texas, with 138 delegates at stake, put Bush over the top.

CNN's Steve Turnham contributed to this report.

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