Democratic National Convention Marked By Historic Nomination, Intra-Party Trouble
The Democratic National Convention convenes in Philadelphia for four days, which began with a rocky start as the chair of the party was ousted in a scandal over leaked emails. And the questions about party unity behind the nominee that had come up at the RNC the previous week in Cleveland also turned up at the DNC.
The Ohio delegation met each morning for breakfast and heard from speakers such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and ODP Chair David Pepper talking about coming together behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. The convention opened Monday afternoon with U. S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) as the permanent convention chair, and Ruby Gilliam of Minerva, who at 93 years old was the oldest delegate at the convention, leading the Pledge of Allegiance in her US Navy uniform. But even after hearing from party leaders and Sen. Bernie Sanders himself, his supporters were still concerned, including former State Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland.
But Ohio got a lot of attention. Chillicothe mayor Luke Feeney spoke to delegates from the stage. And the next night, during the historic vote to nominate Clinton as the first woman presidential candidate for a major political party, the Ohio delegation made its nomination with the help of Jim Obergefell, the Cincinnati man who brought the U.S. Supreme Court case that made marriage equality into law.
The night was capped by a speech from former president Bill Clinton, who shared some personal thoughts to push for support for his wife and for party unity. But there were also protests outside the hall in the official "protest zone" set up near the delegates' arrival gate at the arena. And there was a huge protest several miles away in downtown Philadelphia that shut down the streets around historic City Hall. Hundreds of demonstrators from a variety of groups including Black Lives Matter, Code Pink, and coalitions concerned with criminal justice reform, Palestinian rights, workers rights and other causes joined together for a traffic stopping protest at rush hour in 95 degree heat.
The party union questions went on into Wednesday, as President Obama spoke at the convention for his last time as a sitting president. Some backers of Sanders, including a few celebrities, told reporters of their concerns and said they were also worried that former Sen. Turner was being silenced. But many of Sanders' supporters from Ohio, including former lawmaker Bob Hagan of Youngstown, had come around to the point that they were supporting Clinton. U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Ted Strickland said he thinks the party is mostly together now and can move forward to get Democrats, like him, elected this fall.
At Wednesday's delegate breakfast, US Sen. Sherrod Brown admitted that he had indeed been vetted by Clinton's team as a possible vice president candidate. And then on Thursday, as Hillary Clinton prepared to give her historical acceptance speech, Ohio was in the spotlight again. Four of the five Democrats in Congress from Ohio - Sen Sherrod Brown and Reps. Fudge, Tim Ryan of Youngstown and Joyce Beatty of Columbus - were all invited to speak, along with Beth Mathias of Marion, who met Clinton at an economic roundtable.
When the balloons fell to signal the end of the event, Clinton supporters promised to get right to work. But the angst among some Sanders supporters remained, including among Ohioans. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.
There was plenty of star power at the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia this week. And among those famous faces was a somewhat infamous one from Ohio who’s been quietly chatting with convention-goers. Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler sat down with the former mayor of Cincinnati – who most people know from his infamous nationally syndicated talk show.