Capitol Alert

Bernie Sanders delegates accuse Clinton organizers of trying to shut them out

While Bernie Sanders’ supporters at the Democratic National Convention largely lowered their voices on Wednesday – after shouting inside Wells Fargo Center and storming a media tent on the previous day – pockets of unruliness persist.

A prime place to find them: The upper reaches of the California delegation, house left.

As Sanders delegates arrived at the concourse above their seats on Thursday, they accused Hillary Clinton campaign’s of delaying access and sending non-delegates into the hall to take their seats. Clinton delegate organizers denied the claim, but several non-delegates wearing Clinton garb arrived at Sanders’ section – and tried to gain admittance – saying that they were looking for friends or, when turned back, had simply been confused.

“This is boiling over,” said Henry Huerta, a Sanders delegate from Whittier. “It’s getting to the point where we’re trying to sit down and we don’t have any seats to sit in ... This is like a mafia working in the Democratic Party.”

Bob Mulholland, a longtime Democratic strategist and organizer of Clinton delegates, said Sanders delegates were not denied access. Eric Bauman, vice chairman of the California Democratic Party, said California delegates have occasionally skirmished over signs but that he was going “out of my way to try to be as welcoming as I can” of Sanders supporters.

Though the state went for Hillary Clinton in the primary election, California is home to the nation’s largest delegation, and it came to Philadelphia with 221 activists committed to Sanders. If the remaining dissidents are in the minority now – after a week of outreach from Clinton and an appeal from Sanders to shift their support to her campaign – one thing they remain is loud.

With Clinton addressing the convention on its final night, delegates for both Clinton and Sanders were seeking to position themselves in the Wells Fargo Center closest to cameras and under overhead lights.

Throughout the week, Sanders supporters protested from the upper rows of the arena, holding signs that said “Ban Fracking” and shouting “lies” and “no more war.” A Sanders supporter who made his way to the floor on Tuesday yelled repeatedly at Gov. Jerry Brown.

The unrest reflects lingering uncertainty among many Sanders supporters about Clinton.

Martha Kuhl, secretary-treasurer of National Nurses United, which spent millions of dollars on behalf of Sanders, said Thursday that nurses are “terrified” of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee. But it is unclear if the union will endorse Clinton.

“We will check in again with our membership,” she said.

On the final day of the convention, a handful of Sanders supporters stood in front of the stage at a California delegation breakfast at a Marriott hotel, where a much larger group shouted down speakers Monday.

Motecuzoma Sanchez, a Sanders supporter from Stockton, told a security guard to back off.

“There’s unaddressed grievances,” he said. “There are unaccounted for concerns.”

The protesters were met by Clinton supporters who told them to “get some sleep.”

Mulholland downplayed any concern that they might disrupt the arena on the final night.

“It’s not like they’re ripping shirts off,” he said. “They’re expressing their views. That’s what you do at a convention.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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