LAS VEGAS (AP) - Organizers of the Nevada State Democratic Convention said they had to rush to wrap up the “unruly and unpredictable” event on Saturday after security became an issue and objects, including chairs, were being thrown.
State party officials said authorities at the Paris casino in Las Vegas informed them around 10 p.m. that they could no longer provide the necessary security for the event, where tensions between Bernie Sanders supporters and party leaders flared up. The convention was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.
Hillary Clinton picked up seven of the 12 national delegate slots up for grabs at the state convention after narrowly turning out more supporters than the Sanders camp. Out of nearly 3,400 qualified state-level delegates who showed up, Clinton had 33 more than Sanders.
Clinton already had a delegate lead in Nevada after winning the Feb. 20 caucuses, but Sanders supporters outnumbered Clinton backers at the April county conventions, where results are not tied to any national delegates. She now has a 20-15 delegate advantage over Sanders after reversing her fortunes at the state convention. She is also expected to win a majority of Nevada’s eight unpledged super delegates.
Sanders supporters have accused state party leaders of rigging the process against them, and they objected to procedural votes to approve the rules of the event. They also questioned a credentials committee’s disqualification of 58 would-be Sanders delegates, who state party officials said didn’t provide evidence about their identities or weren’t registered to vote as Democrats by a May 1 deadline.
State party officials said some Clinton-supporting delegates were ruled ineligible too, although in lower numbers.
After casino officials told convention organizers to wrap up the event Saturday night, party chairwoman Roberta Lange accepted a motion to appoint delegates pre-approved by the Hillary Clinton and Sanders campaigns, organizers said. She also accepted a motion to elect the state central committee according to rules submitted by county party chairs.
Sanders supporters upset with the proceedings staged a protest outside the Nevada State Democratic Party headquarters on Sunday, writing in sidewalk chalk “Roberta Lange murdered democracy” and “Fire Roberta.” Officials also said Lange had received hundreds of phone calls and text messages, including death threats, after her cellphone number was posted on social media.
Sanders issued a statement Friday, as tensions simmered before the convention, saying all Democrats shared the common goals of defeating Donald Trump and electing Democrats to office. “Working together respectfully and constructively on Saturday at the Nevada Democratic convention will move us closer to those essential goals,” he said.
Sanders national communications director Michael Briggs didn’t have immediate comment on the events in Nevada when reached by phone on Sunday morning.
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