Clinton keeps delegate lead as Dems collide

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LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton will maintain her comfortable Nevada delegate lead after turning out more supporters to the Nevada State Democratic Caucus than Bernie Sanders did.

Clinton won seven of the 12 delegates up for grabs at the raucous convention on Saturday, while Sanders won five. Party officials say 1,695 Clinton-supporting delegates and 1,662 Sanders-supporting delegates showed up to the event with the proper credentials.

Of the 43 delegates Nevada will send to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, 20 are now pledged to vote for Clinton and 15 are pledged to vote for Sanders, based on the results of the Feb. 20 caucuses and Saturday’s convention.

Eight prominent Nevada Democrats are considered unpledged “superdelegates” who can choose whomever they’d like in Philadelphia, although most who publicly committed have said they’ll vote for Clinton.

Democrats remain deeply divided between the two candidates, with boos from Sanders supporters bringing the convention to a standstill at times. They also raised questions about the final delegate count and accused party establishment of rigging processes against them.

While the convention credentials committee ruled Clinton won, a Sanders supporter offered a minority report arguing 64 Sanders supporters were disqualified without a chance to prove their eligibility. Party officials said potential delegates were disqualified because they didn’t show they’d met the voter registration requirements or didn’t provide sufficient identification information.

They noted that eight prospective Clinton delegates had also been disqualified, and six of the disputed Sanders supporters were ultimately allowed as delegates.

Sanders supporters filed a lawsuit last week alleging the Nevada State Democratic Party blocked them from running for party office, saying there was conflicting information about a candidate filing deadline.

Judge Ronald Israel tossed the case Friday, saying the courts wouldn’t interfere in a dispute within the party unless there was a compelling reason to do so.

At Saturday’s event, Sanders supporters protested a set of convention rules that were eventually adopted and booed at mentions of Hillary Clinton.

“Boo all you want. Boo louder.

“Because you’re booing Bernie Sanders and you’re booing this country,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a surrogate for Clinton.

Democratic U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid tried to quell the unrest with a statement Friday saying he’d “talked to my friend Senator Sanders today” and the two camps needed to cooperate.

“I hope Senator Sanders’ supporters heed his call for an orderly and respectful Nevada State Democratic Party Convention,” Reid said. “The success of Nevada Democrats up and down the ballot in November depends on it.”

The state party also distributed a statement from Sanders himself.

“We share a commitment to electing progressive Democrats up-and-down the ballot in Nevada and across the country and are committed to soundly defeating Donald Trump and the right-wing Republican agenda,” the Vermont senator said. “Working together respectfully and constructively on Saturday at the Nevada Democratic convention will move us closer to those essential goals.”

Candidates already locked in some of their delegates based on the results of Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and locked in 13 delegates, while Bernie Sanders received 10.

Sanders scored an upset at Nevada’s county-level conventions last month, winning 55 percent of the delegates thanks to robust turnout among his supporters. But no delegates were tied to the county results, and Sanders would have had to maintain that majority to win a majority of the delegates up for grabs at the state convention.

Party leaders urged Democrats to unify toward their common goals, including returning the Legislature to Democratic control and keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.

“Sixteen different Republicans tried and failed to stop Trump this year,” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange. “Now it’s up to all of us to get the job done.”


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