THE STATE CONVENTION (FINALLY!)
The big difference between this stage and the previous one is that there is no provision for Unelected Alternates. The only way to get into this Convention was as a Delegate or an Alternate that had been elected at the County Convention. The NVDEMS website listed the names of Delegates and Alternates for both campaigns. They sent e-mails. I got numerous calls from the Clinton campaign and I presume the Sanders campaign did the same. You could register online ahead of time but you had to get your credentials on either Friday night or Saturday morning. The strict cut-off was 10 am.
The Convention was supposed to start at 9 am. Clinton Delegates were urged to be on the floor by 9 as it was expected that the Sanders Delegates wanted to stop the passage of the Rules. The only explanation I ever got for this was that they wanted the section on decorum thrown out. Was it fear that they would be removed for being too loud? Was it because they wanted to protest with impunity? Was it lack of understanding? Is it just because they have become so paranoid about the actions of the Democratic Party that they see any action taken as corrupt? I’m not sure. But as a group, they were convinced that the Rules were going to be a disadvantage to them and they were going to vote them down.
(I have since learned that the decorum section was not the primary reason why they wanted to vote down the rules. It seems that there was an impression that Lange had engineered a rule change that would discount the county results and that it would give her too much power to rule on the outcome of voice votes.The part about the county results is completely untrue. To dispute her authority to rule on voice votes seems silly when she is the Chair, especially since these Rules were established by a Rules Committee formed by both Sanders and Clinton supporters and voted on by the Executive Board. It appears, given various petitions that have gone around, this was engineered by Erin Bilbray. Her reasoning is unclear.)
The Convention didn’t actually start until nearly 10. For some reason, after the Pledge of Allegiance, etc, the first item that came up was a Preliminary Count from the Credentials Committee — again a body made up of both Clinton and Sanders supporters. This lit the fuse.
(I have come to learn that the Preliminary Count is given in order to establish that there are enough attendees to have a quorum for the procedural parts of the Convention that do not require the Final Count. If Sanders Delegates were held outside, it was because they had not gotten their Credentials yet. Anyone could pick up their Credentials on Friday night or Saturday morning, so long as you were in line before 10 am. So you would still be counted toward the final tally if you were in line but you would not be able to participate on the Convention floor until you were Credentialed)
The Credentials Committee reported the number of Delegates and Alternates given credentials as of 9:30am. It was a Preliminary Count as there was still a half hour left for people to get in line to be credentialed but it showed that Clinton was ahead in both Delegates and Alternates. This was a game changer and the first indication that there might be another switch in percentages. At the time, I thought that the 12 delegates would be split as one group so I thought that maybe it would end up being 6/6 with an end result being 19/17. Not what happened on February 20 but better than what happened at the County.
There was a motion to accept the Preliminary Count into the record. The motion was seconded. A voice vote was taken. (PS — Nearly every motion is done by voice vote which is ridiculous but also necessary for time management purposes. Note for future, always vote for the loudest delegate if you want your side to win) I was not up front and, in fact, the Delegates were separated by campaigns in the room. Still, it didn’t seem like this was that close so the Chair, Roberta Lange (who has already been completely demonized by the Sanders group) passed the motion. The Sanders Delegates went ballistic. They started chanting. They started booing. They stormed up to the fence placed in front of the stage. They refused to let anything continue, shouting down anyone who came up to speak. Now, keep in mind, this was for whether or not a PRELIMINARY COUNT would be accepted into the record. This had NO BINDING EFFECT on any aspect of the remaining parts of the Convention. This was basically a motion to note that these numbers had been given out so that we could acknowledge a quorum. The fact that this group so overreacted to a routine item definitely spelled further trouble.
Perhaps they screamed because they felt like this was an indication of how they would be treated. And when you are primed to feel like you are going to be treated unfairly, you will see it everywhere regardless of the truth. Was the vote close? Maybe. Not to me but it was basically a bunch of people shouting AYE and then a bunch of people shouting NAY. Since Clinton had more numbers at that point, one could certainly argue that the AYES outnumbered the NAYS but again, this was all over a PRELIMINARY COUNT.
So then the Rules Committee came up. It was explained that the group had been evenly divided by Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters. Again, the Rules had been made available to read before the Convention. The motion was put forth to pass the Rules. The motion was seconded by a longtime Sanders supporter who explained just how hard the team had worked on the Rules and urged full support. They were the Temporary Rules accepted by the Executive Board and the Rules that governed the proceedings until made Permanent. After the second, three people from each side could speak for and against. The “against” speakers mainly argued that the Rules should just be Robert’s Rules.
(Thanks to Breadlord, a Bernie Delegate, I understand more about Robert’s Rules as the parliamentary procedure. They are actually mentioned in the Temporary Rules as part of the governing structure that will be used. It seemed that the Sanders Delegation was under the impression that the Convention was operating solely under Robert’s Rules until the passage of the Temporary Rules — which is not true — and that voting down the attempt to make the Temporary Rules permanent would lead to simply being covered by Robert’s Rules — also not true. We were covered by the Temporary Rules already and it says quite clearly that any changes to these rules would require a 2/3 majority. Obviously there was nowhere near a 2/3 majority for the Sanders delegation.)
At the time, there was no coherent articulation of an argument of why these Rules shouldn’t be passed. No explanation for why they were so egregious. Particularly since the second of the motion came from a Bernie supporter. Again, it was probably a fairly close voice vote but the Chair passed the motion. To have Rules.
This of course set off another round of passionate screaming, chanting, rushing the fence and so on and so forth. Now, these just passed Rules would have made it possible for these people to be removed from the Convention and they were granted quite a bit of leeway in staying. I think to avoid angering them further. The officials did try different tactics. They played a video that was meant to inspire all Democrats that showed Obama, Sanders and Clinton and a video of Dina Titus (the one Democratic House Representative from Nevada). Plus the Sanders’ State Campaign Director pleaded for calm.
The timeline definitely gets jumbled. Keep in mind, I was ultimately there from just before 9am until nearly 11pm at night so I apologize if I don’t have everything in the right order.
I do know that Catherine Cortez-Masto (the only significant Democratic candidate running to replace Harry Reid, a former two-time State Attorney General who passed legislation that fought sex trafficking and also pursued lawsuits that returned money to Nevada homeowners from big banks, a woman who would be the first female Senator from Nevada and the first Latina Senator EVER and who’s win is crucial for Democratic attempts to take back the Senate) was booed when, in the middle of her fantastic speech, she mentioned that she supported Hillary Clinton. When she was done, our side cheered loudly that this amazing Democrat is in this race. The Sanders side was mainly silent. Last I checked, Sanders wasn’t running to be a Senator from Nevada and that even if he were to win, he would need Cortez-Masto to pass his agenda. Apparently, this little fact eluded them.
It also eluded them when Barbara Boxer, a progressive champion in the Senate who proudly proclaimed her friendships with both Sanders and Clinton, was booed from the moment she was introduced as the speaker for Clinton. Like the champion that she is, she stood up to the disrespect and the bullies and delivered a thundering address. The speech is online so you can easily see what she was up against. From supposedly fellow Democrats.
When Nina Turner came up to speak for Sanders, Clinton staffers and volunteers were moving up and down the aisles urging us to refrain from booing. In fact, Turner was booed by Sanders Delegates when she first took the stage and pleaded for calm. (This was after Lucy Flores, a candidate for a House Representative seat who is in a contested primary and is also one of the 3 down-ballot candidates that the Sanders campaign has supported, also pleaded for order). Eventually, they calmed down during Turner’s speech and it was a really good speech. I was very happy that Turner avoided the divisiveness that had been really evident in her County Convention speech. Maybe there was a bit of a realization that their movement had maybe sparked a mob mentality that has potentially outgrown Sanders control? I certainly expect that Sanders himself would be embarrassed by what went on as I know some Sanders Delegates were.
Around here is one of the long areas when nothing happened. Without the Final Credentials Report, we couldn’t proceed with business that required votes of Delegates since Alternates cannot vote until they are officially made Delegates and that can’t happen until they know exactly how many Delegates are there and how many openings there are. Ultimately all of the Alternates were officially seated. Still, it demonstrates the difficulty of getting all Delegates to show up again for a full day. So we heard speeches from candidates that we would be voting on (basically Party Committee people and the Executive Board). But essentially we were just waiting on numbers. Boredom had calmed down most of the protests at this point.
Finally, at just after 2pm, the Final Credentials Report was ready. 1693 for Clinton, 1662 for Sanders. 4 Uncommitted (on a side note, WTF? How do you even get to this stage as an Uncommitted. I’m guessing a Delegate who’s had second thoughts but then why come? Ugh). Instead of voting on anything, the one hour period for realignment was announced and we all got a much needed break. In this time, the Uncommitteds have to commit because they are below the 15% threshold. Also, Sanders and Clinton people can realign. After an hour, we were called back in. 2 Uncommitteds were still holding out so they were given another half hour. UGH!
We were sent to different rooms by locations (Clark County, Washoe County, Rural Counties) to vote on those Party positions mentioned above. Unlike voice votes, these are paper ballots where we mark our preferences. It takes a long time simply because a lot of people have to mark their ballots and deposit them but it was relatively painless.
Eventually, back in the main room, they prepared to announce the Final Credentials Report. Before the announcement, they said that, once the numbers were released, everyone would immediately head to their rooms for the District level part of the convention. Final numbers — Clinton 1695 (she had picked up 2 of the Uncommitted), Sanders 1662 (he had stayed the same). Maybe those other 2 Uncommitteds went home. Whatever. The bombshell was in the next part. In Nevada, these 12 delegates are not divided as one group. There are 5 pledged PLEO Delegates (Party Leader and Elected Officials) and 7 at-large pledged Delegates. As you may have noticed, these are odd numbers. The fact that Clinton won the Delegate count means that she took the tie-breaker in each of these groups so she received 3 of the 5 PLEOs and 4 of the 7 at-large Delegates for a total of 7 additional Delegates. Added to the totals from Feb 20 and Clinton walked away with 20 Delegates to 15 for Sanders, maintaining the breakdown predicted from the Feb 20 caucus and overturning what happened at the County Conventions.
As you can imagine, full on CHAOS. Many just started going to the rooms for our District to do the next part of the process but a Minority Report also got mentioned. Chair Lange did not let it be read aloud but anyone who wanted was invited to read it. The Minority Report apparently detailed that 64 Sanders Delegates were not credentialed because they had not been Democrats on May 1, 2016 — as dictated by the Rules. 8 Clinton Delegates had also been disqualified. 6 of those 64 were able to prove their registration and were therefore seated. According to a friend on the Credentials Committee (which was also split evenly between campaigns) and now confirmed by the NV Dems, only 8 of the remaining showed up to and attempted to register meaning that 50 didn’t show up. (They were not purged. They weren’t switched. They weren’t Democrats on May 1 as required. Clinton campaign complained, they were removed from the Delegate list and they didn’t show)However, with the margins so close, this became yet another obvious way (in the minds of Sanders supporters) in which the power of the Party has denied Sanders the victory that he so deserved after the County Convention — which happened because they so successfully exploited the Rules. However, apparently Rules are only corrupt when they don’t help you.
(There is now evidence that there was a concerted effort to mislead the Sanders Delegates that was orchestrated by leaders at the convention. This Minority Report was misleading and incendiary. It deliberately indicated that 64 Sanders delegates were turned away when that was not the case at all. With the margin that small — and the outcome so unexpected — I am now not at all surprised that the Sanders Delegates were furious. I would be too if I thought the margin of victory was kept at bay. So the fact that this was untrue and that the people who presented the information knew that it was not true was beyond the pale. I sympathize with all Sanders supporters that were misled in such a disastrous way. Here is the complaint letter that details these allegations)
At the District Level, the first time Sanders Delegates and Clinton Delegates were mixed in, we were supposed to hear speeches of people running to be National Delegates and we were to vote. The number of National Delegates in this section were based on Feb 20. There are 4 Districts. 23 Delegates. Each District had 6 Delegates except for District 1 which had 5. There were 2 Alternates. One was in District 1. I can’t remember where the other one was but I was in District 4 so can only speak to that. This District ended up being 4–2 Clinton based on the Feb 20 count but there was confusion among the Sanders Delegates. They seemed to think that this was going to be broken down based on the percentages of the day, which would have made it an even split. But these 23 delegates were never up for grabs after Feb 20. This is one example of how the Sanders campaign failed its supporters. The Sanders Delegates started to get angry because of the 4–2 split and no one on their side seemed to know that this was the truth of the matter for two months!They were actually given inaccurate information but since the truth contradicted that it must have been CONSPIRACY!
Then there was a fight over speaking time. Each side was supposed to get 20 minutes divided up by number of candidates but Sanders Delegates seemed convinced that everyone was supposed to get a minute. I think that the Rules stated that if you had under 20 candidates, everyone would get a minute. Over 20 candidates and the 20 minute time limit would be divided evenly among the candidates. But this was a loud and disruptive discussion. Everyone ended up getting about 20 seconds because there are a lot of people running. Each side votes on their own Delegates but I guess they just feared that they wouldn’t be given enough time to talk. To their own people. About why they should be a Delegate to the National Convention. By the way, we still don’t know the results of these votes.
Back in the main room again and it is now after 10pm. We still are supposed to vote on the PLEOs and at-large Delegates. And the Platform. Oh God, the Platform. The Platform that was available online and was crafted by a committee split evenly between Sanders and Clinton supporters. Somehow during the day, one line in the section on Government Ethics got changed. (Edit — a writer, Breadlord, who was a Sanders delegate, has helped with this. This line was added through committee)They put the section on the screen with the bullet point they had changed highlighted. The line was “We support future reforms to the Presidential Primary process, including super-delegates, while ensuring Nevada remains an early state and First in the West.” (Thanks again to Breadlord for the exact wording)
At this point, the Platform Committee motions to pass the Platform. The second is once again a longtime Sanders supporter who points out the work that had been done on the Platform and urges support. Now it’s time for 3 statements for and 3 against. On the Sanders side, it quickly devolves into discussions about this line. It doesn’t go far enough in calling for the abolition of Super Delegates. It is pointed out that there is a motion to vote and that these statements are supposed to be about arguing for or against the Platform in its entirety. It is past the point where a change can be made.
Erin Bilbray, a prominent local Democratic politician and a Sanders Super Delegate, takes the microphone ostensibly to speak against the Platform but makes a call for a vote on abolishing Super Delegates. It’s Out of Order. So we go back to the Pro side but Bilbray keeps interrupting. Then Dan Rolle, a fringe candidate running for a House Seat, gets the microphone and calls for a vote to abolish Super Delegates and fire Chair Roberta Lange. Out of Order. More chaos. Enough is enough. They call the vote. Again, it’s a voice vote.
At this point, it’s 10 pm or later. Many Clinton supporters have left, particularly compared to the Sanders supporters. The Nays carry it so the Platform is not approved. The Platform committee starts going through the Platform section by section — Military and Veterans Issues, Healthcare, Education, on and on and on. Each section is motioned for a vote, seconded and voted upon. Thankfully, the Sanders people don’t protest too loudly until we get to the Government Ethics section that contains this line. As well as other bullet points about Citizens United, campaign finance and many of the most important issues to the Sanders supporters. They scream it down. Platform committee removes the entire section from the Platform — because it didn’t pass — and we move on. Now, I wish they had gone line by line in that section and had us vote up or down. And I know that the Sanders supporters probably thought that by voting it down they would be able to change it but their vote was to NOT APPROVE that section of the Platform. So it wasn’t approved and it was removed. Once again, they were frustrated and angry because of how misinformed they were.
But we’re not done yet. Sanders Delegates were furious. Clinton supporters were frustrated and tired, particularly now that we were so vocally outnumbered. It was made worse when one of the Hillary shuttles announced it was time to leave — a fact that made the Sanders folks cheer with glee. Still, there was more work to do. We were supposed to vote on these 12 delegates. However, the Convention had also run out of its allotted time and security was telling us it was time to shut it down. We heard that there would be a motion to allow the Presidential Campaigns to pick their slate of PLEOs and at-large Delegates. As they have review anyway, I don’t think this was a problem for any of us. They know better the people they want anyway and I trust the campaign to pick the people that should go. Still, there was much private discussion that seemed to drag on forever.
They decided to allow candidates for District 3 to speak since they ran out of time earlier but it was mainly the fringe candidates that were still there. The last one, Jesse Sbaih, is riled up. He tries to finish off his time by handing the microphone to Erin Bilbray. This action is stopped amid raucous boos from the remaining Clinton supporters. We were still paying attention. Bilbray steps down and Sbaih retakes the microphone only to call for a recount. WHAT? As you can imagine, this just brings more chaos.
Moments later, just before 11pm, it all ends quickly. Chair Lange took the podium and motioned for us to vote on the decision to allow the campaigns to pick the slates. Seconded in a hurry. Passed with a flurry. A motion to adjourn. Seconded in a nanosecond. Call for vote. Chaos of Ayes and Nays that ran into each other. Convention adjourned. Gavel down. Clinton staff telling us all to leave as quickly as possible. Sanders supporters going beserk (video readily available) and the stage being taken over by security who announce that it is time to go or risk being arrested.
Will the Sanders people complain about the way that it ended? Probably. Were they disenfranchised in any way by the way it ended? No. Because they never understood what it was that they were protesting. Minor procedural items and platform ideas that have no bearing on actual policy. Things that had been accepted by staunch Sanders supporters in committees. At the end, they seemed to be creating as much chaos as possible to either run out the clock or get enough Clinton supporters to leave with the hope that they could do something that they wouldn’t have been legally able to do anyway. These people were beyond reason so the only thing left was to end it.
And if you’ve gotten this far, I want to first thank you for taking the time to read this long attempt to make sense out of a confusing process. I also want to point out that, individually, I met several Sanders supporters who were very nice as individuals. I even saw obviously medically-trained Sanders supporters come to the aid of a Clinton supporter who had collapsed. But as a mob, they were impossible. Even their own leaders struggled to control the fire they had started. And this fire came from misinformation — either deliberately or mistakenly shared. And misinformation presented in an angry, biased way is bound to get people riled up. Hearing some of the things that they believe would make me angry too — except that I knew, for a fact, that they weren’t true.
This process is confusing. And the debate over what the caucus should or shouldn’t be is a debate for another time. In the here and now, campaigns have a responsibility to be as accurately informative as they can be. And they need to reign in ringleaders who use this misinformation in dangerous ways — mainly to whip up a mob into such a frenzy that they end up hurting themselves — like getting a piece of the Platform removed that mattered to them very much. But I’m sure that their accounts will all be about how this was all taken from them. Truly, they did it all to themselves — that’s the saddest part.
Plus, keep in mind that this result is actually the reflection of the portion of the process that had the most individual voters — the original caucus. The Sanders Delegation was upset that they had ultimately failed to change that original projection, which was arguably the most Democratic one.
All in all, this process took nearly 14 hours. Hopefully it didn’t take you that long to read this.
The NV Dems have posted their official accounting of what happened. Clickhere for the full article. Click here to get details on the process, including the rules and the platform.
Two key sections from this story. This was not written by me but is part of the statement put forth by the NV Dems in order to set the record straight.
It all comes down to simple math:
- Based on the county convention results, Bernie Sanders had 2,124 delegate slots to the State Convention and Hillary Clinton had 1,722 delegate slots to the State 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.
- Clinton only had 27 delegate positions vacant on Saturday. Sanders left 462 vacant. Clinton filled 98 percent of her available delegate slots at the State Convention, and Sanders only filled 78 percent of his available delegate slots.
- In plain terms, the Clinton campaign organized and got nearly all of their delegates to the State Convention. The Sanders campaign did not.
On the false and wildly inaccurate accusations that there were 64 potential Sanders delegates in question who were “denied” by the State Convention’s Credentials Committee on Saturday:
- Six of the 64 potential delegates were seated as delegates after investigation.
- The remaining potential delegates were ineligible for two main reasons: 1) They were not registered Democratic voters in Nevada by May 1, 2016, and 2) Their information — such as address, date of birth and name — could not be found or identified, and they did not respond to requests from the party and campaigns to correct it.
- Only eight of the ineligible delegates even attempted to register at the State Convention.
- The so-called “minority report” about these ineligible delegates was not written by the Credentials Committee — it was written by national Sanders campaign staff on site. A member of Sanders’ National Delegate Operations Team drafted and arranged for a member of that committee to attempt to deliver an incendiary report that caused chaos and violence at the convention. It was inaccurate, misleading and subsequently discredited by the Credentials Committee.
- The Credentials Committee, the panel that made decisions on these issues, was co-chaired by supporters of both campaigns and the membership of the committee was also equally divided between supporters of both campaigns. This was done to ensure that the entire process was fair, transparent and accountable for both campaigns and their supporters. The committee worked diligently and cooperatively all day, under incredibly trying circumstances, to be fair and impartial in its work.
Also of interest might be this article from Jon Ralston from Ralston Reports, a well-known local Nevada journalist who was also there and live tweeted many of the happenings.
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