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Maine Democrats Upset About Leaked Documents

Jim Hutchison
Flickr/Creative Commons

National nominating conventions are always a bit chaotic, but Democrats appear to be joining Republicans in ratcheting up the chaos more than usual during the first day of the Democratic convention, which got off to a rocky start in Philadelphia.

The hard feelings between supporters of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders deepened over the weekend with the release of Democratic National Committee documents by Wikileaks. The documents include emails between state party officials and the DNC discussing ways to discourage Sanders’ campaign and bolster Clinton’s.

“There is no worse time than to, you know, destroy unity and it certainly feels like that is happening. Things are kind of crumbling around right now,” says Troy Jackson, a Sanders delegate who serves on the Democratic National Committee.

Party Chairman Phil Bartlett, a Clinton superdelegate, says release of the documents has created anger and frustration for Sanders’ supporters. And he says those responsible for the scandal should resign.

“It’s frustrating. I mean I think the whole situation has been frustrating, I think the leaks and certainly some of the content is distressing. And that’s why I think it is appropriate for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to step down,” he says.

Wasserman-Schultz is the current chair of the DNC who announced she would step down as chair after the convention. But that wasn’t good enough for Florida delegates, who booed her offstage during a breakfast session Monday morning. After that she announced she will not be addressing the convention as planned.

Maine First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree says Wasserman-Schultz was right to resign. She says the party must remain neutral in all primaries.

“There are a lot of people very upset about this and frankly I am going to be really interested in hearing from Sen. Sanders,” she says. “He has brought such an important conversation to this democratic process, he’s speaking to so many issues I care about and I know many people in Maine do.”

When asked directly whether she will vote for Clinton as a superdelegate, a candidate she endorsed last year, Pingree says she has until Tuesday evening when she casts her vote to decide that.

Neither Clinton nor Sanders has enough pledged delegates to win outright. Instead, Sanders’ delegate and die-hard supporter David Bright says the final decision will be up to superdelegates like Pingree and Bartlett.

“It will in fact be up to the superdelegates,” he says. “They have to make a decision — Do you want Hilary Clinton, with all of the stuff coming out, or do you want Bernie Sanders, who polls have constantly shown does better against Trump?”

Bright says he won’t decide who he will vote for in the fall until he knows who all of the candidates are on Maine’s ballot. Bartlett says he is going to vote for Clinton, convinced she will be the nominee.

Jackson, meanwhile, says he thinks Sanders is the best candidate. But if Clinton wins, he says he’ll support her because he believes a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster for the country.