One of the big stories out of Philadelphia this week is what the followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders will do in the coming months.
Unlike the Republican convention in Cleveland, nearly half of the pledged delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia were here for a candidate other than the nominee.
That candidate is Sanders, and although he moved for a unanimous nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democrats’ candidate for president, many of his supporters felt betrayed. Some even held signs at rallies saying “Never Hillary.”
The convention got off to a rocky start for those who wanted a smooth week. Wikileaks released emails that members of the Democratic National Committee that were written during the campaign criticizing Sanders and plotting strategy for how to defeat him. The scandal cost DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job and enraged many in the Sanders camp.
As the week went on, large rallies took place downtown in support of Sanders, who urged his supporters to back Clinton in order to stop Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.
For local Sanders supporters, it was a long week. Still, they seem encouraged by what they say will be a bigger movement.
David Sparks, an alternate delegate for Sanders, says he has no regrets about going to the convention and being a part of the campaign to elect the Vermont senator.
“We stood up for the values we stand for vigorously and passionately,” he said.
“We also solidified our network of organizers.”
Sparks drove to the convention with his wife, Audra, a delegate for Sanders from Ohio’s 10th congressional district, and Mathias Detamore, also a 10th district delegate.
They stayed at an Econo Lodge near the Philadelphia Airport that they dubbed the “Berncono Lodge.”
Sparks said he doesn’t expect Sanders’ supporters to jump on the bandwagon for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who spoke to a large crowd of Sanders supporters outside Philadelphia City Hall earlier this week.
“We are here to take back our party, not let Jill Stein piggyback off of our efforts,” Sparks said.
The Clinton campaign is trying to make a plea to keep the millions of Sanders supporters in the Democratic Party, but may have a tough fight ahead.
Sanders this week said he will return to the U.S. Senate as an independent, not a Democrat.
The Montgomery County chapter of the Ohio Citizens for Bernie Sanders will continue under a changed name: the Miami Valley Progressive Caucus, Sparks said.
While the group shares nothing politically in common with the tea party movement, they do have a similar strategy to get people elected at the local level.
Sparks is running for the Ohio House this year against Republican incumbent Jeff Rezabek in the 43rd district which includes Clayton, Trotwood, part of western Montgomery County, Dayton and Preble County.
“I believe the movement is twice as strong coming out of Philly,” Sparks said. “We have solidified our bonds with each other, and have already been working hard making plans to go forward to recruit candidates and get involved on the local, state and national level.”
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