It’s supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s convention, but the focus Monday was on her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, and his delegates, who continue to stew over a WikiLeaks release of Democratic National Committee emails that showed favoritism to Clinton over Sanders.
In New York’s delegation, annoyed Sanders supporters attending the convention in Philadelphia struggled to even secure a room to meet in so they could discuss all that’s happened.
They wanted to figure out how to react to the controversy over the leaked emails that led to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the cancellation of her appearance at the podium on the convention’s first day.
They found an empty meeting space, but were asked to leave by hotel staff, who said it was reserved for someone else. A second room, also empty, was denied to them once about 50 or so delegates had entered and begun their meeting. Finally, one delegate seized an open microphone.
The State Democratic Party reserved one of the larger spaces for coffee for all of the delegates. A spokesman said the use of the rest of the rooms is out of their hands, but they will ask the hotel to reserve a space for the Sanders delegates to meet beginning on Tuesday.
“We haven’t been treated fairly for an entire year,” said Carrie Gardner, a Sanders delegate from Westchester. “Why should this day be any different?”
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Clinton delegate, said she believes the controversy will, in the end, just be a passing “distraction.”
“But it’s an understandable distraction,” said Miner, who said she was disturbed by reports that DNC staffers tried to make Sanders’ religion a wedge issue.
“That’s just not who we are and should not be tolerated,” Miner said. “It’s completely understandable that people would be angry.”
She predicts Democrats will unite around the larger goal — defeating Trump.
In a speech to his delegates on Monday afternoon, Sanders did not mention the controversy directly, but did express satisfaction at the resignation of Wasserman Schultz, to cheers from the crowd.
But when Sanders urged his delegates to back the Clinton-Tim Kaine ticket, there were boos and chants of, “We want Bernie.”
Sanders tried to urge his delegates to see the larger picture — defeating Trump, who he called “a bully and a demagogue.”
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also a Clinton delegate and a longtime Clinton ally, said the larger concern is that Sanders supporters will stay home in November. He said Trump has more support than many Democrats realize, especially in his home of Long Island.
“I was in the neighborhood I grew up in, and there’s a fair number of Trump signs in that neighborhood,” DiNapoli said.
“If New York is in play, then every state is in play,” DiNapoli said.
But he said there are still a majority of Democrats who back Clinton.
Protests and disruptions by Sanders supporters are expected to continue all week.