The evening before six of the remaining seven Democratic primary contests were to be held, The Associated Press announced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had reached the delegate threshold necessary to clinch the party's nomination.
Clinton’s victory is historic. She is the first woman to become the nominee of a major party heading into a general election.
On June 6, following Clinton’s victory in Puerto Rico, which put her within striking distance of the 2,383 delegate threshold necessary to declare victory, several previously undecided superdelegates confirmed to AP they would be supporting her at the party convention.
“It’s time to stand behind our presumptive candidate,” superdelegate Michael Brown of Washington, D.C., said, noting that Clinton led rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by hundreds of pledged delegates and millions in raw votes. “We shouldn’t be acting like were are undecided when the people of America have spoken.”
The news arrived the night before several states were scheduled to cast their votes. Residents in California, Montana, New Jersey, Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota will all be weighing in on the race on June 7, with a combined 694 pledged delegates on the line.
Clinton currently has 1,812 pledged delegates while Sanders has 1,521.
Delegates are awarded proportionately in the Democratic primary, meaning Sanders would need to win the remaining contests by a blowout margin to overtake Clinton in the pledged delegate count.
Clinton appeared reluctant to celebrate the announcement during a campaign rally in Long Beach, California. The presumptive nominee told her supporters, “We’re going to fight hard for every single vote.”
The Sanders campaign responded by chastising AP for calling the primary race just before a high-stakes slew of contests.
“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,” communications director Michael Briggs of the Sanders campaign said in a statement, NPR reports.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination,” the statement added.
In 2008, then-Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois secured the nomination after winning only 1,776.5 pledged delegates.
During a sit-down with CNN’s “New Day,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook seemed hesitant to declare victory, instead urging for voters to still turn out in the remaining states.
“We do not want to send a message that anybody’s vote doesn’t count,” Mook said, according to Politico. “Hillary said at the beginning of this campaign, she’s going to fight for every single vote, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Mook did add, “We’re going to have a nominee tomorrow.”