WASHINGTON

- Democrats closed ranks around Hillary Clinton yesterday after her public explanation of her email practices - yet party officials in important election states appeared resigned to the prospect that her all-but-certain presidential campaign will be saddled with drama and controversy.

The mood among Democrats suggested Clinton has work to do to bolster party enthusiasm as she nears the launch of her 2016 campaign, although there's still no sign she'll face a robust primary challenge.

Brady Quirk-Garvan, the Democratic Party chairman in Charleston, S.C., said the intense focus on Clinton's use of her private email account as secretary of state leaves him concerned that the issue could overshadow the party's message.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press yesterday sued the State Department to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Clinton's tenure.

The legal action follows repeated requests filed under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act that have gone unfulfilled. They include one request the AP made five years ago and others pending since summer 2013.

The suit in U.S. District Court comes a day after Clinton broke her silence about her use of a private email account while she was America's top diplomat.

The FOIA requests and the suit seek materials related to her public and private calendars; correspondence involving aides likely to play important roles in her expected campaign for president; and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and government surveillance practices.