MONTPELIER >> Hillary Clinton unveiled her Vermont leadership committee Friday, a list of politically powerful state leaders tasked with raising money and winning over voters in a state where Sen. Bernie Sanders is a favorite son.
"Over three years ago, on a humanitarian trip to Haiti, I encouraged Secretary Clinton to run for President in 2016 and pledged my support," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, who leads the committee. "The American people will have a stark choice on the direction of the country next November. Secretary Clinton's experience, leadership and commitment to issues vital to working Americans will keep our nation on the right path."
The committee includes more than two dozen members, including former Govs. Madeleine Kunin and Howard Dean, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger. The campaign says the committee will grow in the coming months, and a special section of Clinton's campaign website has been created to organize Vermont volunteers.
The committee will be charged with recruiting volunteers, organizing events and getting voters out to the polls on primary day, March 1.
The Vermont team will likely also assist Clinton's fundraising apparatus in the region, assisted by Bill and Jane Stetson. Jane is the former finance chair for Democratic National Committee and raised more than $2.4 million in 2011 and 2012 on behalf of President Barack Obama, making her a top fundraiser in the campaign, according to The New York Times.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, it's clear in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to be president of the United States," said former Gov. Madeleine Kunin. "Her experience in foreign policy, as a senator, and as First Lady have provided her with the set of experiences needed to be ready on day one."
Sanders snagged the endorsement from the Vermont Progressive Party back in June, and a coalition of nearly 20 state representatives released a video in late September offering praise for the Vermont senator.
"Bernie, Bernie, he's my boy. Never, never a billionaire's toy," Rep. Jim McCullough, D-Williston, says in the video.
A notable exception from the list is U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who has not endorsed a candidate.
Following the first Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Welch told VTDigger that both Clinton and Sanders performed well, and that they each have the credentials to be president.
"Bernie set the terms of the debate, and Hillary followed him," Welch said.
Eric Davis, a retired professor of political science at Middlebury College, said it is very unlikely that Clinton will win the Vermont primary. In Sanders' last Senate election in 2012 he easily won against John MacGovern, with more than 70 percent of the vote, according to Real Clear Politics.
Davis said Clinton's leadership committee further bolsters her support from superdelegates, like Leahy, who vote at the DNC convention for a Democratic nominee.
"Even if Bernie manages to get 35 percent of the elected delegates, she will get many more superdelegates," Davis said, which could push her even closer to clinching the nomination, which requires more than 2,000 delegates.
Davis said Sanders is not worried about Clinton organizing in the Green Mountain state, but about winning other states on March 1, a voting day known as Super Tuesday.
Davis said Sanders has a good chance of snagging wins in Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota that day.
"The interesting question is: Will Bernie win any other states besides Vermont on Super Tuesday?" Davis said. "He doesn't want the story on March 2nd to be Hillary Clinton won 12 states."
The full list of the Hillary for Vermont Leadership Council: Sen. Patrick Leahy, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Montpelier Mayor John Hollar, Former Gov. and Chairman of the DNC Howard Dean, Former Gov. and Ambassador: Madeleine Kunin, State Rep. Maxine Grad, State Rep. Sarah Buxton, Carolyn Dwyer, Bill Lofy, Elizabeth Bankowski, DNC Member Billi Gosh, Former State Party Chair Judy Bevans, Allyson Laackman, Lisa Hagerty, Donna Carpenter, Sarah Muyskens, Nancy Richardson, Marie Kireker, Michael Green, Chair Jane Stetson, Bill Stetson, Denise Shekerjian, Michael Metz, and Phyllis Forbes.