A group of Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention announced its discontent with the selection of Tim Kaine as the vice presidential nominee on Monday and signaled its members might protest that decision on the convention floor.
Calling itself the Independent Bernie Delegates Network, the group includes 1,250 Sanders delegates — about two-thirds of the total Sanders delegate count — who have been organized by RootsAction.org and Progressive Democrats of America. The group is holding snap straw polls among its members to help inform options for its actions at the convention.
In a survey of the delegates taken 10 days ago, just 3 percent said that Tim Kaine was an “acceptable” vice presidential choice for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, with 9 percent saying they were undecided and 88 percent saying the choice would not be acceptable.
Sanders delegates who spoke at the event cited the choice of Kaine as evidence that Clinton is not properly reaching out to their movement. Kaine has raised the ire of progressives by supporting moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership forward and backing the expansion of offshore drilling, something that concerned California Sanders delegate Norman Solomon.
“Tim Kaine will double down on making the ticket a target the size of a very big barn for the faux, false, demagogic, phony, economic populist claims of Donald Trump,” Solomon said. “It’s really important for us to recognize where the threat from within the Democratic Party is coming from that could enable or facilitate a Trump victory, which we all are so dedicated here to preventing.”
Other delegates, like Karen Bernal, one of two elected co-representatives of the California Sanders delegation, downplayed the need for party unity in lieu of changing the party itself.
“Bernie delegates came here with an entirely different agenda than the Democratic Party would like to see us be a part of,” Bernal said. Bernie delegates came not just to push a progressive agenda but also to talk “about the power structure, its corruption, and the fact that we utterly reject the system that we’re operating in now,” she said.
Manuel Zapata, a 29-year-old California Sanders delegate, cited the recently leaked DNC emails showing that staffers at the organization had derided the Sanders campaign as evidence of Clinton’s lack of respect for the movement.
“From the DNC’s leaked emails it’s clear … that they had the finger on the scale [for Clinton],” Zapata said. “We find it disrespectful that a madman like Donald Trump is reaching out for the progressive vote more than Hillary Clinton is.”
On Sunday, the network initiated straw polls of delegates attending the conference to ask them if they plan to take part in audible protests during the selection process of Kaine on the convention floor.
Solomon declined to share the vote totals at this time, but “it’s evident that a substantial majority of surveyed delegates … say they want to participate in protests on the floor” over Kaine’s selection, he said.