Amid Rifts, Ohio Delegation Urged Toward Unity At DNC

U.S. Rep. John Lewis speaks to the Ohio delegation in Philadelphia. (Karen Kasler / Statehouse Bureau)
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Ohio delegates at the DNC heard a message of coming together at their required meeting this morning.  It comes as their convention got off to a rocky start under outgoing chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.  Our Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler says the convention is moving forward in the wake of a leaked DNC email scandal over senior party staff favoring of Hillary Clinton’s nomination and bashing fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders. 

The Ohio delegates got a special treat – a short speech from civil rights icon John Lewis, the longtime Congressman from Georgia, who hadn’t even spoken to his own delegation yet. He praised Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as her running mate, and though he never mentioned Sen. Bernie Sanders, it was clear he was talking to Sanders’ supporters. 

“We got to roll up our sleeves. We cannot be divided. This is it. There’s no tomorrow. This is it.”

The party unity question continues to dog Democrats in the wake of the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Columbus area Congresswoman Joyce Beatty introduced Lewis to the delegates at the breakfast, and said to reporters that she thinks most Sanders supporters will come around.

“You always have that one percent in everything. And I certainly respect an individual’s right of freedom for whomever they want to vote for, support as a candidate. But we are stronger together and this is our time to stand together.”

Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper says he’s confident that things are already turning around in spite of the controversy involving the chair. 

“This is a four day convention. We will spend the four days coming together and at the end of the day – you already see polling that more Bernie Sanders supporters are on board with Hillary Clinton now than eight years ago Clinton people for Obama.”

While there have been no public displays of a divided delegation, there are 80 Clinton delegates and 63 Sanders delegates from Ohio – but many Sanders delegates are longtime party leaders and elected officials, and some have said they plan to join up as Clinton supporters by week’s end.

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