Sanders backers urge state’s superdelegates to support him

  • By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, March 29, 2016 9:23pm
  • Local News

Backers of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders aren’t just fired up about taking on America’s corporate titans.

They’re now targeting Washington’s “superdelegates” with an aggressive online campaign to get them to pledge their delegate vote to Sanders after his landslide victory in Saturday’s caucuses.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene, who are superdelegates who back Hillary Clinton, are getting hammered on their Facebook pages from those insisting they respect the results.

Comments are coming from constituents and Democrats in other parts of the state who helped Sanders defeat Clinton by a margin of 72 percent to 28 percent.

“Honor the voice of the voters. Keep democracy democratic. The people have spoken,” wrote Dennis Mitchell, of Liberty Lake, one of 750 people who had commented on Larsen’s page as of Tuesday.

Samuel Jennings, of Bothell, wrote to DelBene: “Speaking as your constituent in Bothell, I want my representative to honor the wishes of the people she represents, instead of letting personal feelings or political alliances dictate her concerns. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope your Easter is going well!”

Neither Larsen nor DelBene could be reached for comment. Both are part of a congressional delegation visiting China this week focused on U.S. economic, cybersecurity and environmental challenges.

Larsen did issue a statement through his campaign office.

“While I recognize the win of the Sanders campaign on Saturday, I will cast my vote for Hillary at the Democratic National Convention in July,” he said. “She is on a solid path to becoming the nominee for the Democratic Party and I believe she is best suited to win this fall.”

Although Sanders beat Clinton in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii on Saturday, the Vermont senator still trails the former U.S. Secretary of State in the battle for delegates.

Clinton has 1,712 delegates to Sanders’ 1,004, according to the most recent tabulations. That includes 469-29 advantage in superdelegates.

Elected office-holders and party officials in each state are automatically made delegates to the Democratic National Convention. These superdelegates can vote as they wish and are not required to abide by results of primaries or caucuses, not even in their own precinct.

Washington has 17 superdelegates. Of those Larsen, DelBene, U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer; U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Gov. Jay Inslee have all publicly backed Clinton.

The other eight, all party officials including Chairman Jaxon Ravens, have not publicly announced how they’ll vote at the convention.

Sanders’ backers, angered by the party’s use of the free-wheeling superdelegates in the selection process, are trying to convince Washington’s to change their minds.

Nearly 30,000 people had signed a petition circulated on MoveOn.org as of Tuesday. It targets all 17 superdelegates, not just Larsen and DelBene.

“Please remember that you are officially unpledged delegates,” it begins. “Follow the lead of average Democratic party voters and uphold authentic democracy.”

Facebook is proving a vehicle for those wishing to press their case more directly to Larsen and DelBene who, between them, represent the majority of Snohomish County. Some cautioned there could be political consequences for them this fall.

“Do your job before we elect someone else to do it for you,” one man wrote to Larsen.

That someone could be Democratic candidate Mike LaPointe, of Everett, who is challenging Larsen this year. LaPointe is a Sanders backer.

“My email is exploding,” he said Tuesday. “It’s overwhelming. It’s really caused a lot of people to take notice of the issue we have with politics and the arrogance of some politicians. The word is getting out that there is an alternative to Rick Larsen who can do the job.”

Brooke Davis, Larsen’s campaign manager, expressed confidence the eight-term congressman will be the party’s nominee this fall.

“The difference I see between Bernie Sanders and Mike LaPointe is Bernie has a campaign structure and infrastructure,” she said. “We are yet to see the same organization and infrastructure in the Mike LaPointe campaign.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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