PHILADELPHIA ― Surrogates for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have been remarkably poised in addressing the lingering dissatisfaction that Bernie Sanders’ supporters feel toward the Democratic ticket.
But under the grueling heat here in Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention is being held, it’s clear that patience is beginning to fade. Several Clinton sources I spoke to today said they were agitated that Sanders boosters at the convention had turned the first day into a spectacle of protest, directed even at Sanders himself for encouraging them to back the Clinton-Kaine ticket.
And one top governor backing Clinton made the most forceful case yet that these same Sanders supporters, among others (including the media), were overstating the controversy of leaked emails that show Democratic National Committee officials trying to tip the scales for Clinton during the primary.
“I think any grievance that someone feels is legitimate. To the degree [the Sanders supporters’ grievances] is legitimate I think is a question,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “The idea that people working for the DNC don’t have their own personal opinions is a fallacy. Obviously, people working for Bernie Sanders wouldn’t like all of their emails released tomorrow.”
“I think we live in a world where people put things in writing that in many cases, they are letting off steam,” Malloy added. “They are expressing anger. And when you read those things in isolation, then they come out one way when really they are part of a narrative which is written over a much longer period of time when people have highs and lows. That’s the reality.”
Malloy spoke a day after DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the release of those emails via Wikileaks, and just hours after she and Sanders were both heckled by Sanders supporters at their respective meetings with home-state delegates. Though the jeering had dominated much of the news coverage of the day, Malloy said he was not overly concerned with the prospects of long-term party disunity.
“Most of them are with us. We have to bring the rest of them along,” he explained. “Think of who is here in Philadelphia. These are the die-hards of the die-hards and I think they’re having a hard time with it. On the other hand, I think the senator is demonstrating leadership in trying to bring other people along.”
Malloy could qualify as an expert on the discontent of Sanders supporters. As a DNC platform co-chair, he was accused by the Sanders campaign of being biased in his handling of the primary process. Addressing that criticism indirectly, he noted that the party had made changes to the nomination process in line with what Sanders had demanded, along with adopting a historically progressive platform ― one that he called a “quantum leap forward” compared to past cycles.
The Connecticut governor will speak at the convention on Monday night and, like most others taking the lectern, he is likely to face heckling from the crowd. But his remarks aren’t geared completely toward addressing the current rift or, for that matter, the current election. As chair of the Democratic Governors Association, he has spearheaded a campaign to get the party to pay close attention to state races that could end up affecting the balance of power in Congress.
Malloy has been encouraging voters, activists and donors this week to start planning for the redistricting process that will come after the census in 2020. It will be a primary focus of his speech tonight, which will include a video underscoring the point.
“What I’m saying is, ‘Hey, Democrats, we didn’t pay attention in ‘10 or ‘08 or ‘06,’” said Malloy. “We have to pay attention now and we have to be building victory, on victory on victory.”
Unlike presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, Malloy said he thought that Democrats still had an outside chance to retake the House before that redistricting takes place. But he said that if the party was thinking honestly, and smartly, it would recognize that it’s unlikely to happen before then.
“Is it impossible? It is not impossible,” said Malloy. “But it is not probable that we are going to do that either. Listen, I hope and pray that that happens. That would be great. But what I would tell you definitely won’t happen is we won’t take back state houses in that time because as good a job as Republicans did on congressional seats, they did an even better job on local seats.”