Nina Turner

Leader of Sanders Political Group to Headline Area Dem Gala

Ticket sales for the fundraiser initially lagged due to displeasure from Clinton supporters.

TULALIP — The leader of Our Revolution, the national political group launched by Bernie Sanders following his 2016 presidential bid, will be a keynote speaker at the Snohomish County Democratic Party fundraiser Saturday.

Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and national surrogate for Sanders during his campaign, will discuss the organization’s efforts to advance a progressive political agenda and reclaim democracy for working people. She took the reins as president in June.

“She’s a captivating speaker. She will push you to think,” said Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.

Turner and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, are main speakers for the Henry M. Jackson Awards Gala to be held at the Tulalip Resort Casino. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Everett, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib and Deborah Parker, a Tulalip Tribes member and vice chairwoman of the board of directors for Our Revolution, also are slated to make remarks.

The event begins with a private reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and presentations at 7.

Turner and the organization she leads have drawn criticism from some in the national Democratic Party structure.

Their concern is the progressive policies pushed by Our Revolution are hurting efforts to unite the party and win elections in the era of President Donald Trump.

Turner has said she isn’t trying to fit the group into the party establishment.

“I’m certainly willing to sit across the table with almost anybody if we gonna work towards the collective good, but it is not Our Revolution’s job to fit in with them,” she said in an interview with The Nation in June, adding “we’re here for a very specific purpose, and that is to help the everyday Americans in this country who feel left behind.”

In Snohomish County, ticket sales for the annual Democratic fundraiser started slowly because supporters of Hillary Clinton, the party’s presidential nominee, weren’t pleased to learn a Sanders adherent would be one of the main speakers.

“It didn’t cause a rift. There is a rift. It’s left over from last year,” said Mario Brown, chairman of the county party. He also attributed the initial slow sales to the event occurring in one of the last weekends of summer.

Sales picked up as he stressed the event’s importance in raising money to aid local Democratic candidates in this fall’s elections.

Several hundred people are now expected to attend, he said.

“I’m encouraging people to come and hear her,” he said. “People who are complaining don’t know her.”

jcornfield@heraldnet.com

This story was first published in the Everett Herald.

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