Stubborn and restless, Democratic supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the streets Sunday to again argue for his presidential candidacy.
Sanders delegates, including several from Missouri and Kansas, chanted slogans and held signs demanding an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Sanders-nistas clogged the machinery at committee meetings on credentials. Drums pounded. Horns blared.
Clinton delegates? Many rolled their eyes — frustrated at the possibility of a party split every bit as damaging as the Ted Cruz-Donald Trump bust-up in Cleveland last week.
But the likelihood of such a painful split seemed stronger than ever Sunday. “I will never reconcile with Hillary Clinton,” said Missouri delegate Vicke Kepling as she prepared to join a Sanders march near the city’s convention center.
Amy Powell felt the Bern outside the Missouri delegation’s hotel downtown. “Angry might not be the right word,” she said, referring to her feelings toward Clinton. “Maybe disappointed is a better word.”
Clinton forces hope Sunday’s resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee will heal some open Sanders sores. A computer hack that spilled emails from the party hurt by appearing to show party favoritism for Clinton during the primary season — infuriating Sanders and his supporters.
“It will mollify them somewhat,” said Joan Wagnon, a Kansas delegate. “I think they’re looking for new leadership.”
But Sanders delegates won’t budge, at least for now. Even Friday’s selection of Sen. Tim Kaine as Clinton’s runningmate failed to make a dent with die-hard Sanders delegates in Kansas, Kaine’s childhood state.
“That was a complete sellout,” said Carrie New, a Sanders delegate in Kansas. “He’s moderate, not progressive.”
Delegates like New and Kepling will be watching closely Monday night as Sanders speaks to the convention. He’s expected to tear into Trump, but he may be less enthusiastic for his intraparty rival.
Privately, many regular Democrats and Clinton supporters hint they’re running out of patience. In recent days, Clinton backed away from tough platform fights over Sanders-friendly issues, and the pesky problem with unelected superdelegates may be dealt with over the next few months.
As the nominee, some Democrats say, Clinton has worked as hard as possible to make the Sanders crowd happy. At some point, it’s their turn to compromise.
Democrats always like to argue, Missouri delegate Nick Robinson pointed out. Eventually, the Sanders voters are likely to come home.
Kansas and Missouri delegates are staying at a hotel in downtown Philadelphia where rooms are going for more than $600 a night — too rich for some Sanders delegates, who arranged for housing elsewhere despite pressure from party officials. The price tag has made Sanders delegates even angrier.
So look for more public displays of disaffection with Clinton in the early part of the convention. There may be floor demonstrations, or protests from the balcony.
The long-term effects of all this discord aren’t clear. Clinton’s choice of Kaine suggests she’s more worried about losing votes in the middle of the political spectrum; the Sanders wing of the party will come around, she likely believes.
The state parties — and this week’s convention — will play key roles in unifying Democrats. There’s little Clinton can do or say to bring Sanders supporters into the tent, some Democrats say, but pressure from friends inside the delegations could do the trick.
Trump supporters applied similar pressure to Cruz holdouts in Cleveland. It worked, to a point. Missouri Republicans persuaded four delegates to switch their allegiances before the final roll-call vote.
No one expects a similar shift in Missouri’s Democratic delegation, which is evenly split among elected delegates, or in Kansas, where Sanders delegates far outnumber Clinton delegates.
But floor votes are the least of Clinton’s concerns — she will win the nomination. To win the election, though, she’ll need every Sanders vote she can get.