Demo­crat su­perdel­e­gates gird for clash at con­ven­tion

Fiery sup­port­ers of Clin­ton, San­ders ready to face off

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The Demo­cratic su­perdel­e­gates are brac­ing for tur­moil at the na­tional con­ven­tion this sum­mer in Philadel­phia, and they al­ready are fin­ger-point­ing about which side is tear­ing apart the party.

Those back­ing likely pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton ac­cuse ri­val Sen. Bernard San­ders and his band of rab­ble-rousers of not play­ing by the rules and de­lib­er­ately sab­o­tag­ing the party. The other side ac­cuses party es­tab­lish­ment “elit­ists” of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the process and rail­road­ing the se­na­tor from Ver­mont and the 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who have voted for him. A cat­a­clysmic clash is in­evitable. “They are go­ing to make it ugly,” proClin­ton su­perdel­e­gate Man­nie Ro­driguez, a Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber from Colorado, said of the San­ders move­ment. “Th­ese peo­ple don’t want to go by the rules. They want to change the rules.”

Like other su­perdel­e­gates on both sides of the di­vide, Mr. Ro­driguez said he hopes the dis­pute will not spark vi­o­lence in Philadel­phia. But he said he is ap­pre­hen­sive af­ter be­ing mobbed by San­ders sup­port­ers at the state con­ven­tion in Den­ver and ha­rassed on email and Twit­ter be­cause he backed Mrs. Clin­ton in a state where the se­na­tor hand­ily won the Demo­cratic cau­cuses.

“I never felt this way about be­ing a su­perdel­e­gate be­fore,” he said. “This is my 12th year, and this is as worse as it’s got­ten. San­ders doesn’t be­lieve in the su­perdel­e­gates, but he still wants them to vote for him.”

The su­perdel­e­gates — 712 elected of­fi­cials and party lead­ers who are free to back any can­di­date they want at the con­ven­tion but over­whelm­ingly sup­port Mrs. Clin­ton — have been the fo­cus of Mr. San­ders’ charge that the process is rigged.

San­ders sup­port­ers plan to keep the su­perdel­e­gates un­der pres­sure to switch their votes and help de­liver the nom­i­na­tion to the self-de­scribed demo­cratic so­cial­ist who is lead­ing a rev­o­lu­tion within the party.

“It could get messy, and I think that’s OK for ev­ery­one not to be pup­pets and line up,” said Troy Jack­son, a DNC mem­ber from Maine who is one of just 42 su­perdel­e­gates na­tion­wide pledg­ing sup­port for Mr. San­ders.

The se­na­tor is math­e­mat­i­cally all but elim­i­nated from se­cur­ing the 2,382 del­e­gates needed to win the nom­i­na­tion, but he vows to take his cam­paign all the way to the con­ven­tion.

Mr. San­ders has down­played re­marks he made about the con­ven­tion get­ting “messy,” which evoked im­ages of the melee at the Ne­vada state party con­ven­tion.

“What I said was democ­racy is messy,” Mr. San­ders said on MSNBC. “Peo­ple have de­bates. We don’t live, thank God, in an au­thor­i­tar­ian coun­try. Peo­ple dis­sent. They may raise their voice ev­ery now and then. That’s called Amer­i­can democ­racy.”

He is ac­cus­ing party lead­ers of rig­ging the race and urg­ing his sup­port­ers to voice their dis­sent.

Pro-Clin­ton su­perdel­e­gate Jo­ce­lyn Bu­caro, a Demo­cratic Party chair­woman in But­ler County, Ohio, said the bur­den is on Mr. San­ders to mol­lify his sup­port­ers.

“Much will de­pend on how Sen. San­ders han­dles a con­ces­sion when that hap­pens,” she said. “But I don’t an­tic­i­pate the prob­lems we’ve seen in other places in Philadel­phia.

“Some of the rhetoric coming from the se­na­tor’s sup­port­ers and sur­ro­gates is not help­ing the party be­cause they are ques­tion­ing the le­git­i­macy of the process,” said Ms. Bu­caro. “There is a prob­lem with the rhetoric right now.”

She noted that Mrs. Clin­ton would be win­ning with­out su­perdel­e­gates, and she ex­plained that the for­mer sec­re­tary of state’s ad­van­tage with su­perdel­e­gates as “in­dica­tive of the Clin­tons’ long ties to Democrats.”

Still, the lop­sided sup­port for Mrs. Clin­ton among su­perdel­e­gates when Mr. San­ders has won about 45 per­cent of the votes cast in pri­maries and cau­cuses has some party lead­ers con­ced­ing that the rules need an over­haul af­ter this elec­tion cy­cle.

“This un­ease says that the party should re­visit the del­e­gate se­lec­tion rules,” House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said on Capi­tol Hill.

Mr. Jack­son, the DNC mem­ber from Maine, said the con­ven­tion would get “messy” be­cause the en­tire cam­paign has been that way.

“It’s been messy for a long time. It’s been messy with a bunch of elit­ist well-off peo­ple run­ning the party and not re­ally car­ing bout the ev­ery­day pop­ulists,” he said. “If we don’t roll over and give them what they want, they are go­ing to be up­set and won­der why San­ders doesn’t just pull out.”

Mr. Troy vowed to keep prod­ding fel­low su­perdel­e­gates at the con­ven­tion to join the San­ders camp.

Wis­con­sin state Rep. David Bowen, a su­perdel­e­gate back­ing Mr. San­ders, said he wants a civil de­bate at the con­ven­tion but stressed that “peo­ple must also feel that there is fair­ness.”

“There are for now al­most 10 mil­lion vot­ers who have voted for San­ders, and it seems like the Clin­ton camp has con­tin­ued to not take se­ri­ously and pushed aside those sup­port­ers,” he said. “There def­i­nitely has to be re­forms.”

Mr. Bowen, who also serves as vice chair­man of the state party, is the only su­perdel­e­gate in Wis­con­sin sup­port­ing Mr. San­ders, al­though the se­na­tor won the April 5 pri­mary 56 per­cent to 43 per­cent.

“I stuck my neck out, and I en­dorsed the se­na­tor,” he said, adding that there was too much pres­sure at “the front end” of the race for su­perdel­e­gates to get on­board with Mrs. Clin­ton.

“It will be a tough process to get peo­ple to hum­ble them­selves so that we can unify and not have peo­ple say, ‘You lost, so you need to shut up.’”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.