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Issued: 2018-03-10

FILE - In this Monday, March 6, 2017, file photo, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez speaks at a protest against President Donald Trump's new travel ban order in Lafayette Square outside the White House, in Washington. Democratic Party leaders still can't reach a deal on how to limit party leaders' influence on the presidential nominating process. Perez is promising Democrats will curtail superdelegates' role at the 2020 nominating convention. But a key Democratic National Committee panel is opting to delay action on any specific plans. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is back in the Senate minority. Hillary Clinton is selling books and playing with grandchildren. And the Democratic Party is still navigating the fallout from their bitter 2016 presidential nominating fight.

The latest reminder came this week as party leaders failed to agree on how to reduce the influence of so-called "superdelegates" in picking Democrats' next White House nominee. That class of party leaders — Democratic National Committee members, elected officials and others — overwhelmingly favored Clinton two years ago, inflaming Sanders backers who accused Democratic power players of stacking the deck.

Democratic national Chairman Tom Perez is promising the party will curtail superdelegates' role at the 2020 presidential nominating convention, but he's been unable to broker a shift he says is needed to avoid charges of favoritism that dogged Clinton.

A key Democratic National Committee panel this week opted to delay specific action until this summer. Instead, the full DNC on Saturday is expected to ratify a generic commitment to reduce superdelegates' "perceived influence." That essentially repeats a deal that Clinton and Sanders negotiated ahead of the party's 2016 convention in Philadelphia.

"We will improve the democratic process" before 2020, Perez insisted in an interview. "If we're going to win elections, you've got to earn the trust of voters, and many voters had a crisis of confidence in the Democratic Party," the chairman told the Associated Press, adding that the notion of DNC players "putting their thumb on the scale" had "a lot of negative consequences" in 2016.

At the 2016 convention, unpledged superdelegates accounted for about 15 percent of the all presidential nominating votes. To be clear, Clinton almost certainly wouldn't have needed any of them to become the nominee. She won at least 3 million more primary votes than Sanders nationally, giving her a clear lead among pledged delegates who made up the overwhelming majority of the votes in Philadelphia.

Sanders' backers, however, resented her ability to rack up early endorsements and claim a significant delegate lead before any primary or caucus ballots were cast. Adding to the umbrage since the election is the confirmation by longtime party players that the DNC made fundraising deals with Clinton's campaign before she was the nominee.


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