The trickle of superdelegates moving to Barack Obama since his resounding win Tuesday in North Carolina turned into more of a torrent today, erasing Hillary Clinton's months-long lead and marking another milestone in his march to the Democratic presidential nomination.
After adding at least seven, Obama, with 270, has nearly pulled even with Clinton who has 272.5, according to the latest unofficial tally by the Associated Press. Little more than four months ago, on the eve of the primaries, she held a lead of 169 to 63.
The superdelegate count was the last measure on which Clinton led. They are the party leaders and elected officials who will almost certainly decide the nominee.
Obama's campaign this morning confirmed three: Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey, who switched his allegiance from Hillary Clinton; Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who plans to campaign with Obama today; and John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, whose union also endorsed Obama today.
Then, Obama added another superdelegate, Ed Espinoza, a Democratic National Committee member from California who could help Obama with outreach to Hispanic voters, who have supported Clinton for the most part.
"I am endorsing Barack Obama today because throughout this process I have seen him show a judgment and character that we need in our next president," Espinoza said in a statement provided by the Obama campaign. "To unify the country at this time in our history we need a president who has these qualities, and that is why I am proud to endorse him today. My good friend Bill Richardson, who backed Obama some weeks ago, knows what it takes to lead and I trust his judgment in this decision as well. I look forward to working with this great movement to bring victory in November."
Obama then announced the support of DNC member Vernon Watkins of California and Wilber Lee Jeffcoat, the Democratic Party vice chairman in South Carolina.
“Barack Obama inspired thousands of new voters in my state of South Carolina to get involved in our democratic process and I am proud to announce my endorsement today," Watkins said in a statement from the Obama campaign. "With Barack Obama as our nominee, we can bring more and more new voters out to become involved and have their voices heard. Obama has worked his whole life to unite people from all backgrounds and walks of life for change, he has done that in this campaign and he will continue to do that as President. I am excited to join his campaign today.”
And congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is also endorsing Obama, his campaign announced this afternoon.
"I make my announcement with deep respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton," she said in a statement. "She is an extraordinary woman. However, it is time to unite the party behind Senator Obama and to use our energy and resources to defeat Senator John McCain. Barack Obama can unite our Party and our country and bring about the positive changes Americans want."
Clinton, meanwhile, added Congressman Chris Carney of Pennsylvania, whose district she overwhelmingly won on April 22.
UPDATE: Tonight, Clinton added a second superdelegate, Representative Ciro Rodriguez of Texas.
"The voters of Texas' 23rd congressional district voted overwhelmingly for Senator Clinton in the Texas primary and I will respect their decision," he said in a statement issued by the Clinton campaign. "I believe Hillary Clinton has the experience, vision, and toughness to win a general election and can help expand our Democratic majority in Congress. Not only can she win, I am convinced that she will be a truly great President. In two areas of special importance to me, caring for our veterans and improving our schools, Hillary has been a real leader. I am happy to follow the clear choice of my constituents and support Hillary for President."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.