- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - As Hillary Clinton became the nation’s first female presidential nominee from a major party during Tuesday’s roll call in Philadelphia, a couple hundred die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters staged a walkout from the Democratic National Convention floor and rushed a media tent outside.

Among them were several delegates from Oregon - self-proclaimed Bernie Sanders country - who tied black gags around their mouths before joining the protest. The walkout spoke to the party division that still lingers among some progressives who feel the political system cheated Sanders, who endorsed Clinton in a keynote speech the previous night.

“Left convention hall after Hillary declared winner. Went to press tent to do a silent sit in,” Colby Clipston, a 23-year-old Portland resident and alternate pledged Sanders delegate, told The Associated Press in a text message Tuesday evening. “Many of us remain gagged or with our mouths taped shut even once we’re back (in the convention hall).”

Earlier that day, Clipston said he felt more confident about backing Clinton now that some of Sanders’s policies were being blended into her campaign, but he’s still adjusting to the idea.

“While I remain unconvinced currently, now I will be listening to Hillary’s speech a bit more closely,” Clipston told AP. “Hopefully, she will present me with something I can vote for - not just against Trump.”

Another less-obvious protest was carried out by a high-profile member of Oregon’s delegation: U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio.

The congressman is skipping the DNC to protest superdelegates - a longstanding system that affords DeFazio, a superdelegate himself, and other high-ranking politicians the freedom to vote however they please. As a result, DeFazio relinquished his vote as one of Oregon’s 13 superdelegates.

“I do not support the practice of using superdelegates in the Democratic Party primary, and believe the superdelegate system to be undemocratic,” DeFazio told the AP in a statement.

Superdelegates have come under scrutiny this year, especially among Sanders supporters, because they are sometimes at odds with their constituents back home about which candidates they support.

That’s what happened this year in Oregon. Most of the state’s 61 pledged, or “bound,” delegates favored Sanders - mirroring his 57 percent win during Oregon’s primary election - while the bulk of the superdelegates, nine of 13, went to Clinton. DeFazio was the only superdelegate to not endorse a candidate, although he’s previously stated he would support whichever candidate became the nominee.

With the absence of DeFazio and another superdelegate who, according to sources currently in Philly with Oregon’s delegation, had fallen ill but was endorsing Sanders, Oregon was two votes short of the 74 total delegates during Tuesday’s roll call.

Thus, its official DNC tally came to 38 votes for Sanders and 34 for Clinton.

“Superdelegates were created in the early 1980s, and the function and process deserve reevaluation,” DeFazio said. “I have remained neutral in the presidential primary, as I traditionally do in contested primaries, and instead prefer to let the voters determine the results of the democratic process.”

Republicans have significantly scaled back the role of superdelegates within their party since 2012, and the Oregon Republican Party eliminated the three superdelegates it once had earlier this year.

On Saturday, a petition backed by Sanders supporters to abolish superdelegates failed to pass muster with the DNC Rules Committee. But they instead reached an agreement with DNC officials to scale back superdelegates’ influence in future elections.

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