Over the weekend Bernie Sanders was assured the majority of Colorado’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention later this year in Philadelphia. But Hillary Clinton still has momentum in the state with the support of super delegates. Those are state party insiders, like the Governor. Bente Birkeland reports.
Three thousand delegates braved heavy snow, gathering inside The Ranch auditorium in Loveland for the Democratic state convention. Many of them were there to cheer for Sanders, at times drowning out Clinton’s faithful.
Clinton leads nationally with delegates, and many pundits expect she will be the Democrats’ nominee for president. That tone reverberated in Colorado, with party leaders calling for unity. However, many Sanders supporters said it’s too early for that.
“If we want to see democracy happen in this country we have to create a space for all people’s voices instead of just those people who run the corporations and have the power to create environmental destruction across the world,” said 26 year-old Colin Hughes of Durango.
But what if Clinton becomes the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July?
“I think there will be a serious loss of engagement and I hope it won’t be bad enough that we could lose an election to a Republican,” said Hughes.
For Joseph Thomas, a geology student at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Clinton is too beholden to corporate interests and not strong enough on climate change. He wants Sanders to win the nomination and said he probably won’t back Clinton if she’s the nominee.
“I think that the rhetoric from the Clinton campaign is very derogatory; it’s kind of like you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re voting for someone who is un-realistic, for someone who they don’t know the facts about. And as a science major, someone who I consider to be well informed, it’s just very demeaning.”
Top Image: Kate Bishop of Carbondale said she probably won’t vote for Hillary Clinton even if she is the Democratic nominee. She’s a triathlete and her trainer and coach Judy Heynes of Glenwood Springs hopes the party will unify behind Clinton.
All Photos: Bente Birkeland
Some Clinton supporters agree the tone hasn’t always been inclusive.
“Sometimes we’ve done that,” said Judy Heynes, a personal trainer and coach from Glenwood Springs. “That’s a fault that some of the older voters have, but gosh I used to hear that when I was eighteen too.”
She said she doesn’t think Sanders has accomplished much in office and she likes Clinton’s years of experience.
“I do want someone who has been able to push hard and has been tough and battle hardened by years of attacks. And the second thing, I believe that Hillary’s reputation was smeared by Republicans years ago, so that even Democrats, or Bernie Sanders supporters are believing old stuff.
Michael Chaffee of Silt on the western slope is another Clinton backer.
“I think she’s more qualified to be president than any person on earth right now. We need a woman in the White House for once to see how that works and she’s the person I feel can do the job.”
Many here recall 2008, when Clinton’s hopes were dashed by Illinois Senator Barack Obama and his message of change. They said Clinton’s time to take the White House has finally arrived. But others, like Meredith Jordan of Fort Collins who became a Democrat because of Sanders, said that time has passed…
“I don’t buy her progressive change in her rhetoric over this campaign for a second. I think she was bought by Wall Street. She’s bought by all of the bigwig lobbyists, and I will never vote for her.”
There’s also the feeling here that super delegates are stealing Colorado – at least a part of it – from Sanders. Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet are among the twelve super delegates and are backing Clinton despite popular support for Sanders. Sanders won forty-one of Colorado’s delegates and with the expected backing of all of the super delegates, Clinton will likely nab thirty-seven, But in the months to come, pressure will be on those super delegates to switch allegiances.