SEDALIA, Mo. — When supporters for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders entered their own caucuses to hear speeches for their at-large delegates, Missouri Democratic Party officials put up a blue partition between the two groups that spanned the whole floor of the Mathewson Exhibition Center in Sedalia.
The design was meant to keep the two discussions separate, but the two microphones used by the unofficial caucus chairs were piped into the same PA system. Both of their voices merged and drowned out any kind of coherence or attempts at organization.
Eventually, after about ten minutes of confusion and frustration from both sides, the Clinton supporters moved into a different room.
The episode was symbolic of the Democratic presidential primary at large that has seen insurgent Sanders supporters attempt to wrest control from the more established Clinton delegation across the country. Many Sanders supporters vocally oppose a Clinton candidacy, appreciate Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” and have spoken of contesting Clinton’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July.
All despite the fact that Clinton has beaten Sanders in nearly every metric to the tune of nearly 400 more pledged delegates than Sanders, over 500 superdelegates more than him and about 3.7 million total votes more in primary states.
The math that mattered Saturday told a much different story.
The credentials committee found that Sanders had a total of 453 supporters at the convention compared to Clinton’s 321. As such, those on the Sanders’ side of the room had a disproportionate control over the convention given the fact that Clinton won the state in the April 15 primary by roughly 1,500 votes in a close election.
“As a Clinton supporter and as the caucus chair today, it’s disappointing that so many people didn’t show up from the Clinton side,” said Clinton caucus chair Jack Coatar. “I would have liked to have seen more people make the drive down here to Sedalia, but showing up is half the battle.”
But the party managed to avoid the chaos that has plagued other Democratic state conventions, especially in Nevada where widespread allegations of fraud from Sanders supporters resulted in death threats to Nevada state chairwoman Roberta Lange.
The convention got off to a rocky start with members of the Sanders caucus complaining of audio issues and not being able to understand Missouri Democratic Chairman Roy Temple. Sanders supporters also called for some rule changes, including the ability to nominate at large delegates. Temple explained that the decision to limit the eligible Sanders delegates for national convention came from the Sanders campaign itself in Burlington, Virginia.
Temple seemed prepared for each question to the party’s rules.
“I told people that we should conduct our convention in a way that reflected the reality of the outcome of the election,” Temple said. “We had a very closely contested election in Missouri. There are a large number of delegates on both sides, and we needed to make sure we were both fair and that we did things in a way that created the appearance that we were being fair.”
Conduct for the most part for the rest of the day went smoothly, and the vocal Sanders supporters and muted Clinton supporters each had reason to celebrate.
Clinton won eight at large delegates and Sanders won his seven. With those delegates and the addition of the Congressional district delegates, Clinton will have a total of 36 delegates from Missouri, and Sanders will have 35.
While the Sanders support did not get a victory there, they came away with a big victory when they elected four members of their caucus to the Democratic National Committee for a four year term.
Progressive candidates lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Winston Apple, amateur wrestler and candidate for state representative Curtis Wylde (Wells), St. Louis alderwoman Megan Green, and Mid-Missourians for Bernie Sanders founder Persephone Dakopolos beat out state Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, and Missouri Democratic superdelegates Doug Brooks, Matt Robinson, and Sandy Querry.
Apple said he hoped the party could achieve unity but noted that the ideas promoted by Sanders were the way forward for the Democratic Party as a whole.
“It’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Apple said of the Sanders movement. “The Democratic Party, if they unite behind Bernie’s ideas and his vision, will win big in November,and win big for decades to come.”
The Democrat’s at large delegates are as follows:
- K’hesha Duncan
- Nanda Nunnelly-Sparks
- Vicke Kepling
- Talia Herron
- Brandon Baker
- Robert O’Connell
- Derek Evans
- Nick Robinson
- Frederick Doss
- Van Simpson
- Jimmy Loomis
- Yvonne Reeves-Chong
- Audrey Danner
- Elizabeth Schlesinger
- Brynn Palmer