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December 12, 2017

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Clinton adds to delegate lead with Nevada convention win

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Christopher DeVargas

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters attend the state Democratic Party convention at Paris Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Saturday May 14, 2016.

Updated Saturday, May 14, 2016 | 7:51 p.m.

State Democratic Party Convention

Hillary T-Shirts for sale at the state Democratic Party convention at Paris Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Saturday May 14, 2016. Launch slideshow »

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday again won Nevada at the state Democratic convention, after her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, scored a surprise delegate victory out of the county conventions last month.

There was palpable tension between the two camps throughout the day at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, with Clinton supporters barely outnumbering those supporting Sanders among the more than 3,400 conventiongoers. Still, a 33-person delegate lead was enough to sway the division of a dozen delegates who were up for grabs Saturday in her favor.

Who would win the majority of those delegates remained uncertain going into Saturday because Sanders was allotted more delegates to the state convention. In April, Sanders had turned out more of his supporters to the county conventions — even though Clinton had won the popular vote in the February caucuses — thus allowing him to send more delegates to the state convention.

Based on the presidential preference of conventiongoers, Clinton won seven delegates Saturday, while Sanders won five between two categories of delegates. Each category — at-large delegates and Pledged Leader and Party Official delegates — had an odd number of delegates, which means a narrow Clinton win gave her the delegate advantage in each category.

What that means is out of the 35 pledged delegates Nevada will send to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer, 20 will support Clinton and 15 will support Sanders. (Based on the results of the Nevada caucuses, Clinton had been apportioned 13 district-level delegates, while Sanders had won 10.)

Nevada also has eight superdelegates, of whom four have pledged support to Clinton and one has pledged her support to Sanders. Three have not said whom they will support.

In total, 1,693 delegates and alternates showed up to support Clinton on Saturday, while 1,662 turned out for Sanders. All alternates were seated as delegates because not all of the delegates for each candidate showed up.

Several Sanders supporters, however, put together what they called a “minority report” of 64 Sanders supporters they believe were wrongly denied delegate status. According to state party representatives, six of those were eventually allowed as delegates, and the rest were denied delegate or alternate status because either they or their records could not be located or they were not registered Democrats by the May 1 deadline.

Eight Clinton supporters were denied delegate or alternate status for similar reasons, according to the state party.

National committeeman Andres Ramirez said he would pass along their report to the Democratic National Committee but said no further action will be taken at this time.

Though the convention showed just how divided Nevada Democrats remain between the two candidates, the state party pushed a message of unity Saturday.

“One thing I hope that you can all agree with me on is that this contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has made us all proud to be Democrats,” said the party’s chairwoman, Roberta Lange, in her opening remarks. “The primary has energized our party because both of our candidates have consistently offered strong, well-thought-out visions to move America forward.”

She added that the party needs to elect Democrats “up and down the ticket in November,” saying that Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck is “all aboard the Trump train” and calling congressional hopeful Michael Roberson a “power-hungry, Washington-style career politician.”

To that end, the day featured a number of speeches from Democratic candidates across the ticket, from Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto to a host of Democratic Assembly candidates.

The convention was testy in the early morning, when a contingent of Sanders supporters opposed to the adoption of the convention rules threatened to disrupt the day’s proceedings.

Sanders and Clinton supporters were divided over a vote to adopt a set of temporary convention rules as the permanent rules, with the former largely opposing them and the latter supporting them in a voice vote of the convention called by Lange.

Several dozen Sanders supporters flocked to the front of the convention room, shouting “this is fixed” and “no confidence” at party officials leading the convention after the vote. Others hurled insults specifically aimed at party leadership.

One woman in the front row on the Clinton side of the room and wearing a Clinton T-shirt yelled “call the police!” and “arrest them!” at the crowd of Sanders supporters.

Some Sanders supporters had raised concerns over the temporary rules over the past couple of weeks and collected signatures of convention delegates in the last few days to put forward changes to the rules. However, amid the chaos at the front of the room, the supporters said they missed their chance to make a motion and introduce their petitions.

“I think this was of course the fault of the party,” said Angie Morelli, a Sanders supporter who coordinated the petition effort. “We would’ve been able to do more democratic things, but the way they decided to do it messed us up.”

What the vote revealed, though, was just how deep the divide between Clinton and Sanders supporters runs, and that Sanders supporters are far from ready to give up their fight for the White House.

The night before the convention, however, Sanders had urged his supporters in a statement to be respectful and constructive at the state convention.

In speeches throughout the morning, a couple of Sanders' most prominent supporters also urged the Vermont senator’s supporters to remain calm and not give up on the political process.

Former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner delivered a passionate speech on behalf of Sanders and encouraged his supporters to remain “calm but committed,” saying that’s what Sanders would want.

“I do understand that you are disappointed. I get it,” Turner said, speaking to the “Bernsters” in the crowd. “But the best way to fight our disappointment is to make sure that we stay here and make sure that Senator Bernie Sanders wins today. That is the best way to fight our disappointment.”

Speaking on behalf of Clinton, California Sen. Barbara Boxer urged Nevada Democrats to unite behind the former secretary of state to defeat the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. Boxer called Sanders “a friend” and addressed the Sanders supporters’ behavior.

“You can boo all you want,” Boxer said. “Boo louder, because you’re booing Bernie Sanders.”

Elections to fill the 35 pledged delegate spots stretched into the evening. Delegates also elected the next national committeeman and national committeewoman to represent Nevada at the national party level, the state party’s executive board, and the state party’s central committee during the afternoon.

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