Hillary Clinton returns to the stage to join Bernie Sanders after a break during the December Democratic presidential primary debate. (Jim Cole / AP)

Bernie Sanders is a long way from conceding the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton. So party operatives won’t be getting their hands on his impressive, grass-roots list of voters and donors any time soon.

Politico reports that “the vultures are already circling” in anticipation of the Vermont senator quitting the race and making available his email list, which the website describes as “an electoral gold mine”:

… Sanders, still a White House candidate facing an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination, has all the leverage and control. So for now, any talk about his data trove takes place behind closed doors among Democrats eager not to offend him. Those close to his campaign recognize that if he started sharing his list now, he runs the risk of watering down his own fundraising potential as he focuses on defeating Hillary Clinton.

Democrats of all stripes also know that another, bigger, question looms: how — or even if — Clinton’s campaign will get any access to Sanders’ roster of young liberals, the group she’s struggled to reach for months.

Sanders staffers are routinely peppered with queries from like-minded activists and party types about the list’s fate — everybody and their brothers,” said one person close to Sanders’ White House bid. Sanders’ recent move to share some of the love by sending three fundraising emails for House candidates in early April sparked a new rush of interest in the data — assembled by Revolution Messaging, the Democratic digital firm founded by Scott Goodstein, an alum of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The email list is managed in a cloud constructed with tools from Blue State Digital, another firm with deep ties to Obama.

Still, the campaign’s posture has been not to budge, and Democrats close to his White House bid don’t expect that to change as long as Sanders is a candidate and can continue tapping the “Sisters and Brothers” to whom he addresses each fundraising appeal — a group that’s handed him roughly $180 million so far.

Democratic strategist Joe Trippi summed up how jealously the Sanders campaign is guarding the list: “[T]hey’ve been pretty much, ‘My precious’ — [like the character] Gollum from ‘Lord of the Rings’ — during the campaign,” Trippi said.

–Posted by Gregory Glover

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