When hotel security kicked the raucous Nevada Democratic Party convention out of the facility on Saturday night, Hillary Clinton and Democratic leaders across the country were put on notice: Expect serious turbulence before arriving in Philadelphia this summer.
For several chaotic hours, legions of Bernie Sanders’ backers lashed out in anger and frustration over Clinton’s delegate win there. The Paris Las Vegas hotel finally managed to shut down the event, but another group of angry Sanders fans descended on the state Democratic headquarters the next morning.
To the state party officials across the nation who saw videos from the convention on the Internet and on cable news Monday morning, the Nevada debacle served as a jarring reminder that the party is still a long way from united after its long slog of a primary.
“I think maybe Nevada is a little bit of a wake-up call” to party leaders, warned West Virginia Democratic Vice Chairman Christopher Regan. “If every state chair is not talking about how we can make sure that doesn’t happen in our state, [for] those that have yet to go, you’re just not doing your job.”
In interviews with state Democratic chairs and other party leaders in roughly a dozen states — some of whom back Sanders, and some who support Clinton — the consensus is that the Nevada meltdown was an anomaly. But many worry that it might also be a harbinger of trouble at upcoming state conventions, and perhaps even the July national convention in Philadelphia.
“It is really important for [Sanders], if it’s clear to him by the time the convention starts — and that’s likely to happen — [that Clinton has won], that he send messages to his supporters through his lieutenants, through the heads of his delegations, that if Secretary Clinton has the necessary delegates, then we’ll have a roll call,” said former Pennsylvania governor and DNC chairman Ed Rendell, the convention chairman and a veteran Clinton ally, conceding that a fight over the party’s platform would still be likely.
Democrats had hoped to portray the party as a picture of unity – to contrast to what’s expected to be a messy, contentious Republican affair a week earlier in Cleveland – but those hopes are fading as some level of unrest is now expected in various state Democratic conventions in upcoming weeks.
Those concerns began surfacing in formal and informal communications on Sunday and Monday, said state Democratic officials — and it is certain to be a glaring topic of conversation later this week in Philadelphia when state party leaders gather for their quarterly meeting.
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