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Conn. Democrats Prepare For Party Convention In Philadelphia

Ebong Udoma

This week national attention focused on the Democratic Party’s last two big primary elections in New Jersey and California that are coming up next Tuesday. However, in Connecticut local Democrats were looking beyond the primaries to their party’s national convention in Philadelphia in July.

That’s because on Tuesday, six weeks after the Connecticut primary, party insiders gathered at 10 caucuses across the state to select 36 district-level Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders delegates for the national convention.

WSHU’s Senior Political Reporter Ebong Udoma covered the caucuses and sat down with Morning Edition Host Tom Kuser to discuss what they mean for the party and the national convention. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Ebong, Clinton had a very narrow victory over Sanders in the Connecticut primary, so how was this reflected in the caucuses?

Clinton got about 51 percent of the vote, to Sanders’ 46 percent. The Democratic Party allocates delegates proportionally so at the district level they ended up with an equal number of delegates. So 18 delegates were elected for Clinton and 18 delegates were elected for Sanders.

So was the election of the delegates contentious?

Not very. That’s because the delegates were elected at two separate caucuses in each of the state’s five congressional districts. One of the caucuses was for Clinton supporters and the other for Sanders supporters.

But, Ebong, the primary is being vigorously fought between Clinton and Sanders. And Sanders has said he’s looking to a contested convention in Philadelphia. How do their delegates who were elected this week feel about that?

I asked that question. Here’s State Representative William Tong of Stamford, he was an Obama delegate eight years ago, and was one of three Clinton delegates elected at the fourth district Clinton caucus in Bridgeport.

“When the delegates get to Philadelphia…this party will come together.”

And here is Eli Markham, one of three Sanders delegates elected at the third district Sanders caucus in New Haven.

“It’s important that we have delegates like myself…task number one: defeating Donald Trump.”

So despite the fact that there will be two delegations going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, they’re on the same page when it comes to party unity against Donald Trump in the general election?

Yes, and I think it goes beyond party insiders. For example, I came across Samantha Nelson at the Clinton caucus in Bridgeport. She’s a political science student at Southern Connecticut State University. And she was not very happy with the caucus because she felt most voters weren’t aware of it, seeing that there were less than 100 people in the room. She told me the only reason she was there was because she’d come to help her mother, who was working at the caucus. Nelson told me she a Sanders supporter. She added this.

“If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination…I got to stay blue.”

True blue. So Connecticut Democrats are warming up to supporting Clinton if she’s their candidate against Trump.

That’s the way it seems right now.

Thank you, Ebong.

Thank you, Tom.

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