Supporters of Bernie Sanders plan to take control of Washington’s Democratic convention next week, electing a pro-Sanders chair and taking aim at superdelegates.
In an email Tuesday, Sanders’ campaign urged his delegates to “continue the political revolution” and elect one of his supporters, state Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, as convention chair.
Sanders supporters here want one of their own in charge, in part, to avoid a repeat of last month’s ugly Nevada Democratic convention. That event ended in chaos and even death threats against party leaders by some Sanders supporters, who believed they were being cheated out of delegates.
“With what happened in Nevada, we want to be proactive in making sure the convention is well-run and fair and inclusive,” Frame said Wednesday. “It takes away any perceived sense of impropriety.”
The role of presiding over the convention — where Democrats will elect national delegates and debate changes to party rules — might otherwise have gone to state Democratic Party chair Jaxon Ravens or another party designee. (In 2012, then-state party chair Dwight Pelz chaired the gathering. In 2008, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen did the job.)
Frame said her bid to chair this year’s event is not intended as a criticism of state party officials, whom she said have treated the Sanders campaign fairly.
In a statement, Ravens said he’ll support Frame.
“I know Noel will help guide a productive meeting where we ensure our party platform comports with our values, and rally together to beat Donald Trump and the Republicans this November,” he said.
Sanders won big in Washington’s precinct caucuses in March, so most of the 1,400 delegates to the state convention will be his supporters. (Clinton’s victory in the May presidential primary didn’t change that as the state Democratic Party has refused to heed primary results.)
At the state convention, which will run from June 17-19, Democrats will elect the final set of delegates to next month’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. They’ll also debate the party platform and changes to party rules.
Many Sanders backers want to see an end or changes to the party’s system of “superdelegates” — party officials and elected leaders who are automatic national delegates who can choose to support any presidential candidate.
Most of Washington’s 17 superdelegates this year endorsed Clinton, including U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Gov. Jay Inslee, drawing protests from Sanders supporters.
Andrew Williams, a Gig Harbor attorney, drafted a resolution for the state convention that would require superdelegates to abide by caucus results — or lose financial backing from the state party.
“I really think at the end of the day the superdelegates need to go,” Williams said. He said he hopes his proposal, which was approved by Pierce County Democrats, will at least spark a debate.
Frame said it’s important Democrats debate such issues and come away from the convention believing all sides were treated fairly. That’s especially true for Sanders supporters who are new to the party.
“We desperately need these folks to stay engaged,” she said.