Following a rowdy Nevada state Democratic convention on Saturday, in which supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders shouted down state chair Roberta Lange and a variety of other speakers including California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Bernie Sanders issued a statement that blamed Nevada Democratic officials for skewing the convention against his campaign.
The convention meltdown took place after the convention’s delegate credentials committee ruled that dozens of Sanders delegates were ineligible to vote in the convention — their votes would have given Sanders two more delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had previously urged both campaigns to denounce the disruptions that took place on Saturday.
Sanders, who released his statement earlier today, remained defiant about the conduct some of his supporters. “It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics,” he said in an official statement posted on his campaign site.
“Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense. Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” he said.
He went on to mention the forms of violence his own supporters had suffered, which included shots being fired at his campaign office and the ransacking of an apartment complex campaign staff were living in.
“If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned. I am happy to say that has been the case at state conventions in Maine, Alaska, Colorado and Hawaii where good discussions were held and democratic decisions were reached. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention. At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”
Supporters of the Vermont senator erupted in anger when dozens of potential delegates at the state convention were deemed ineligible. Those delegates could have allowed Sanders to send two more voting delegates (a net of four relative to rival Hillary Clinton) to the Democratic National Convention, hardly decreasing the delegate lead Clinton continues to have over him, but symbolically decreasing Clinton’s Nevada delegate lead after the state’s caucus in February.
According to a post on Medium by the Nevada Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign managed to get more of its state delegates to the convention. “On Saturday at the State Convention, after all of the alternates were seated, Hillary Clinton filled 1,695 of her delegate slots and Bernie Sanders only filled 1,662 at the State Convention — giving Clinton a 33-delegate margin of victory,” explained the post.
That slim margin gave Clinton a two delegate advantage across two separate votes: She won three of five PLEO delegates (Party Leader and Elected Officials), and four of seven at-large delegates.
Sanders’ statement came following calls by senior Democrats to defuse the growing tension between his and Clinton’s supporters, while avoiding placing blame on either group. “I laid out to him what happened in Las Vegas. I wanted to make sure he understands what went on there. The violence and all the other bad things that has happened there,” said Reid, who spoke with Sanders about the incident prior to the release of the Vermont senator’s statement. “I’m hopeful and very confident that Sen. Sanders will do the right thing.”
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz similarly denounced the course of events in Las Vegas. “We are deeply concerned about the troubling details laid out in the letter from the Nevada Democratic Party. We will be reaching out to the leadership of both of our campaigns to ask them to stand with the Democratic Party in denouncing and taking steps to prevent the type of behavior on display over the weekend in Las Vegas,” she said. “Our democracy is undermined any time threats, intimidation, physical violence or damage to property are present. If there are legitimate concerns, they must be addressed in an orderly, civil and peaceful manner.”