Vermont Rep. Peter Welch has thrown his support behind the presidential candidacy of his fellow congressional delegate, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Welch told Vermont Edition on Friday that he will vote for Sanders in Vermont's presidential primary, which will be held on March 1, Super Tuesday. He said he also plans to cast his superdelegate vote in favor of Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in July.
"I'll be voting [on March 1]. And I've decided to vote for Bernie Sanders," Welch told VPR's Bob Kinzel. "And as a superdelegate, I'll follow through and vote for him when we get to the convention in July."
Welch said Sanders has inspired a younger generation to get involved in politics.
"The other thing I've observed as he's run this remarkable campaign is how many young people are coming in," he said. "And the regeneration of democracy requires the renewal that comes with younger people coming in, so that's a good thing."
Welch's declaration of support for Sanders is the first to come from a high-profile Vermont politician; Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Patrick Leahy have both endorsed Sanders' rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as have former governors Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin.
Sanders' fellow state senator, Patrick Leahy, has said his superdelegate vote will go to Clinton at the convention, even if Vermont voters favor Sanders.
"Long before Sen. Sanders ever said he was going to run, I urged then-Secretary Clinton to run and told her I’d support her ... I’d never break my word," Leahy said at a press conference Monday.
In a statement, Sanders said he appreciated Welch's support. "We have been friends for years and have worked together on issues of great importance to Vermont. His support means a great deal to me," Sanders said.
Welch is the third sitting Congressman to declare support for Sanders, according to the website FiveThirtyEight. Overall, Clinton's superdelegate count dwarfs Sanders', 449-19, according to a New York Times count.
This post has been updated.