With all the attention given the heated contest for the Republican Party presidential nomination, it’s easy to forget the battle to become the Democratic nominee isn’t over.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters in Washington certainly haven’t.
On Sunday, at Heatherwood Middle School in Mill Creek, they made their presence felt at the convention of the Snohomish County Democratic Party, turning a usually bland affair of process and pep rally into a rowdy rebuke of three of the party’s torchbearers in Congress.
Inside the school’s gym, they unleashed their frustration at Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene for pledging their superdelegate votes to Hillary Clinton at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
They contend the trio, and the party’s other 14 superdelegates, must instead cast their vote for Sanders, who defeated Clinton by a nearly 3-1 margin in the state party caucuses.
They expressed themselves by repeatedly interrupting the speeches of Murray, Larsen and DelBene by stamping on the bleachers and chanting, “Bernie”.
Richard Wright, the county party chairman, repeatedly gaveled the crowd into order though the calm never lasted long.
Murray, forced to halt her comments several times, did receive applause when she said superdelegates have never overturned the will of pledged delegates, Wright recounted. Clinton is leading Sanders among pledged delegates.
When Larsen took the stage, there were a few boos mixed in with the rhythmic bleacher stomping and chants.
“We heckled the heck out of him,” said an unapologetic Scott Lee, a Snohomish resident and precinct committee officer in the 39th Legislative District. “No matter whatever good they do in Congress, casting their superdelegate vote for Clinton doesn’t cut it.”
DelBene arrived later in the convention and probably wanted to leave without finishing because of the persistent disruptions.
The situation intensified when one man came out of the bleachers and headed toward the congresswoman as she tried to speak. Wright said he and a couple of other people rushed out to greet him on the gym floor and turned him back.
“There were a couple scary moments,” Wright said. “There was a group there wanting only to hear them say they would support Bernie Sanders.”
Passions reportedly flared at conventions in King, Skagit and Whatcom counties as well.
But even before the conventions, the state’s superdelegates have been aggressively targeted by Sanders devotees. It started with an online petition, migrated into vitriolic comments on individual lawmakers’ Facebook pages and last month led to police arresting a man for allegedly threatening to cut out Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott’s tongue because of his support of Clinton.
State party officials have not publicly commented on any of the incidents.
“We’ve certainly heard some of the stories. It’s something we’re monitoring at this point,” said Jamal Raad, spokesman for the state Democratic Party.
It will likely persist through the state party convention in Tacoma in June.
“We are certainly fired up,” Wright said. “In the end what will contain that fire is when one of the candidates gracefully bows out and inevitably endorses the nominee.”