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New York's Bernie Delegates Irritated At DNC

Karen DeWit

It’s supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s convention, but all of the focus Monday was on her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, and his delegates, who continue to stew over a Wikileaks release of DNC emails that showed favoritism to Clinton over Sanders.

In New York’s delegation, annoyed Sanders supporters struggled to even secure a room to meet in to discuss all that’s happened. They wanted to figure out how to react to the controversy over leaked DNC emails that’s led to the resignation of Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the cancellation of her appearance at the podium on day one of the convention.  

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 around 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 says the use of the rest of the rooms, though, are out of their hands, but 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 Hillary Clinton delegate, says 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 an issue of Sanders' religion, using it as a wedge issue.

“That’s just not who we are and should not be tolerated,” said Miner. “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, Senator Sanders did not mention the Wikileaks email controversy directly, but did express satisfaction at the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to cheers from the crowd.

But when Sanders urged his delegates to back the Clinton-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 long-time Hillary Clinton ally, says the larger concern is that Sanders supporters will stay home in November. He says 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.

But he says there are still a majority of Democrats who back Hillary Clinton.

“If New York is in play then every state is in play,” DiNapoli said.

Protests and disruptions by Sanders supporters are expected to continue all week.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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