Everything You Need to Know About Bernie Sanders' War With the Establishment Over Nevada
A group of Bernie Sanders' supporters caused chaos on Saturday at the the Nevada Democratic convention in Las Vegas, reportedly throwing chairs, shouting insults and hurling threats after witnessing an unexpected change to allocation rules for delegates that the state will send to the party's national convention in the summer.
Since the weekend, Sanders and his staff have condemned violence and harassment on behalf of his campaign, but have also implied that the Democratic Party establishment's management of the electoral process was in part responsible for the outburst, criticizing the state's party leadership for "prevent[ing] a fair and transparent process from taking place," according to a statement released Tuesday.
Sanders tied the controversy over the Nevada convention's handling of delegates to his broader grievance that the party establishment is uninterested in embracing his campaign and supporters, and at times deliberately tilts the scales in favor of likely nominee Hillary Clinton, who won the Nevada caucuses in February.
"The Democratic Party has a choice: It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change," Sanders said in his statement. "Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy."
"It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics," the statement said.
The Democratic Party establishment has not been pleased by Sanders' response to Nevada.
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, told CNN Tuesday that "people who are supporting the senator should act in a civil way," but he also criticized the party for excluding them. "There seems to be an unwillingness on the party of the Nevada Democratic Party to bring in all of the new people that Bernie Sanders has brought into the process," he said.
The Democratic Party establishment has not been pleased by Sanders' response.
"Unfortunately, the senator's response was anything but acceptable," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN on Tuesday, as Politico noted. "It certainly did not condemn the supporters for the violence and added more fuel to the fire."
Weaver then hit back, telling CNN on Wednesday Wasserman Schultz's claims were at odds with Sanders' "categorical" condemnation of threats, and questioning her credibility on the basis that "she's been throwing shade on the Sanders campaign since the very beginning," Politico reported.
CNN reported that an audio recording revealed a senior Sanders aide encouraged Sanders supporters to try to "take over" the Nevada convention and said they "should not leave" unless told to by someone from the Sanders campaign. There's no evidence in the recording that the aide aimed to encourage harassment or violence, but it does suggest that Sanders' campaign may have had some role to play in helping to set the scene for the chaos that ensued on Saturday.
According to CNN, the Nevada Democratic Party, "sent a formal complaint to the Democratic National Committee, saying Sanders backers and campaign officials 'actively incited disruption and violence' at the convention."