Presidential Election

On election eve, California Bernie Sanders supporters still ‘feel the Bern’

On the eve of a remarkable election year, Louie Lopez, a combat veteran from downtown Sacramento, leaned on a railing outside the state Capitol and reflected on what could have been.

Lopez, who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, had come to see the Vermont senator give a fiery speech in support of Proposition 61, a drug price measure on the ballot. But as Lopez waited for his first choice to arrive, he said it’s difficult to stomach how poor his options now are for president.

“Trump and Hillary,” Lopez, 68, said of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. “One’s a liar and the other is a cheat.”

Lopez, who receives disability benefits through Veterans Affairs, said he likes Proposition 61, despite drug company opponents saying it could drive up VA prices.

Several rows in front of him stood Joey Barrett, 24 of Carmichael, another Sanders devotee who said he’s supporting the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Barrett knows he’s bucking Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton, but he reasons that he would have complied if California were a more competitive state.

“I feel safe,” he said. “If I lived in a swing state I would have done it differently.”

Dozens of Sanders diehards carried signs bearing his name. “Bernie,” read one, “president of my heart.”

Introducing Sanders to the crowd of several hundred Monday, RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, lamented his loss in the California primary, which came after the Democratic nomination was called for Clinton. Sanders finished with 46 percent.

“I was so angry that day,” DeMoro said. “We would have won in California if the system wasn’t rigged. I am unabashedly saying that. And everything you read on WikiLeaks and everything you see just validates everything we knew.”

As DeMoro spoke, an elderly woman silently marched with a sign: “A vote is a terrible thing to waste,” it read on one side. “Vote for Hillary,” said the other.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago