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Now That Clinton Is The Nominee, Can Democrats Convert Sanders Loyalists?

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Democratic Party officials are still trying to unify support behind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as supporters of former candidate Bernie Standers continue to protest her nomination.

The two candidates nearly split Kentucky’s share of 55 pledged delegates — Sanders took 27 and Clinton took 28. Clinton won all five of Kentucky’s unpledged “super” delegates.

Greg Aster, an aircraft mechanic and Bernie Sanders delegate from Louisville, said the senator’s speech Monday night helped him move on.

“I thought they all did a great job in trying to just show that hey, it’s not our differences that we need to be divided over, it’s our differences with a Trump presidency that we really need to be concerned about,” Aster said.

The convention began amid turmoil as DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down in the wake of leaked emails showing that party staffers had conspired to undermine Sanders’ campaign during the West Virginia and Kentucky primary elections.

Sanders supporters tried to shout down speakers during the first day’s events. A group of Sanders delegates also unsuccessfully mounted a challenge to Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, saying he wasn’t progressive enough.

Aster said emotions were running high as diverse ideas grated against one another.

“I think diversity is good but when is becomes divisive and hurtful I don’t appreciate any of that,” Aster said.

Many Sanders supporters walked out of the convention Tuesday night after delegates officially voted to nominate Clinton for the presidency.

Sanders’ bid pushed Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party’s platform to the left on some issues like setting the minimum wage at $15 per hour, free college education for most Americans and pursuing universal healthcare.

Aster said he used to be a Republican but switched parties because of GOP rhetoric against unions and recent flare-ups over religious freedom issues.

“There needs to be a wall of division between government and religion,” said Aster, a former Pentecostal preacher. “I do not want religion dictating their beliefs upon the American people through the arm of, whether it’s state legislatures, county, city councils, or the federal government.”

Clinton won’t officially accept the nomination until Thursday evening.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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