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N.C. Democratic chairman endorses Obama

Eight of the state's 17 superdelegates say they are backing Sen. Barack Obama at the Democratic convention this summer.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Democratic State Party Chairman and superdelegate Jerry Meek endorsed Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday, citing his ability to unite Americans for change, expand the map for Democrats in November and inspire new participation in the political process.

"Although my position as state chair has led me to remain neutral through the primary, I’ve quietly celebrated as Barack Obama offered new hope to millions of Americans who have lost faith in the American dream after years of disastrous Republican policies," Meek said in a statement.

Meek said he believes Obama can deliver the state's electoral votes to a Democrat in November and "offers the best chance to take back the White House" and "breathe new life into the Democratic Party."

Obama cruised to a victory Tuesday in the state's primary, capturing 56 percent of the vote to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's 42 percent.

Including Meek's endorsement, eight of the state's 17 superdelegates have backed Obama. Three, including Gov. Mike Easley, have endorsed Clinton. (See who's endorsing whom.)

Rep. Heath Shuler, who promised to support the Democratic candidate who won his conservative western district announced Wednesday he would endorse Clinton.

There are now six remaining superdelegates in North Carolina who have not committed to a candidate.

Superdelegates in the Democratic Party are national committee members, mayors, Congress members, big fundraisers and other major players who attend the presidential nominating convention.

According to The Associated Press' tally earlier Wednesday, Obama has 1,840.5 delegates to 1,688 for Clinton. It takes 2,025 delegates to win the nomination in Denver this summer.

Clinton told reporters Wednesday it would take 2,209 or 2,210 delegates to win the nomination, not the 2,025 in use by the Democratic National Committee. The higher total would come into play if the delegations were seated from Michigan and Florida, two states that held primaries outside the time frame that party rules required.

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