Connecticut Democrats gathered Saturday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford to nominate U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal for a second term, but at an event where the outcome was inevitable the divisions in the party were visible.
Outside the convention center about 20 supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont gathered to remind Connecticut’s 16 super delegates that they don’t have to cast their vote for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Vote for integrity. You have a choice,” Sanders supporters chanted.
The at-large delegates will be split 28 for Clinton and 27 for Sanders. The remaining 16 superdelegates have all pledged their support for Clinton.
Heather Glatt-Deeley, of Cheshire, said that in 2008 superdelegates switched their support from Clinton to Barack Obama. “If the party wants to win they need to select Bernie, who polls way better against Trump,” Glatt-Deeley said.
Meanwhile, Brian Anderson, of AFSCME Council 4, and Jim Vigue, of Connecticut Employees Union Independent, were told they couldn’t hand out their fliers from the AFL-CIO inside the convention hall. The fliers contained information about the important role labor plays in the Democratic Party.
“Connecticut Democrats are being told that they need to become a party of austerity. Reject this attempt to reconfigure the Democratic Party into the party of Reagan,” the flier said.
Michael Mandell, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said they weren’t allowing anyone to hand out information or leaflets on the convention floor. He said Anderson and Vigue were moved to a location near the entrance where they could still talk to delegates and hand out the fliers.
He joked the Democratic Party supports the First Amendment, unlike the Republican Party, which banned a Hearst reporter from attending their convention on Monday.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin acknowledged the divisions in the Democratic Party, but called for unity. He said there may be differences “between us as Democrats, but at this moment any difference between us as Democrats shrink to insignificance next to the huge gulf in policy and principle that separates us from the Republican Party today.”
The Republican Party is “driven by hate and by fear” and the “Republican standard bearer, who has no standards, has no idea what made America great,” Bronin said referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Let’s keep Donald Trump far away from the White House,” Bronin said.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said the Democratic Party hasn’t always agreed on everything, “but in the end we will come together as a party and we have to because on the Republican side we have Donald Trump.” The crowd booed. Wyman called Trump “the single most dangerous person ever to seek the presidency.”
She said Trump wants to pit people against each other. She said the Republican playbook is to “divide, destroy, and deceive.”
As far as the prospects of a Trump presidency, “We’re going to work like hell this year to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Wyman said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who nominated Blumenthal to a second term, said the burden to run this year is “great” because candidates will have to defend American values.
Murphy said he doesn’t see Blumenthal having difficulty defending those values.
“No one is better at standing up to bullies than Sen. Richard Blumenthal,” Murphy said. “. . . Dick Blumenthal is the conscience of the nation, the conscience of the consumer.”
More than a 1,000 Democratic delegates were gathered Saturday to nominate Blumenthal, who was Connecticut’s attorney general for two decades before winning former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat in 2010 in a race against former World Wrestling CEO Linda McMahon.
Toward the end of his nearly 20-minute acceptance speech, Blumenthal said he will be proud to be on the ballot this November with Clinton, but he had kind words for Sanders.
He said Sanders has engaged new energy and new ideas,“but we know we have to come together to win this campaign and we know how to win tough campaigns by coming together.”
Blumenthal said he doesn’t care how great the odds, his job is to fight for the people of Connecticut “first, last and always.”
“I will never be outworked. I will never be intimidated. I won’t back down,” Blumenthal vowed.
Democrats also nominated Nancy DiNardo and John Olsen to serve as members of the Democratic National Committee.
Not everyone from the Democratic Party was present.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was at his son’s college graduation. U.S. Reps. Jim Himes and John Larson also did not attend. All five members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation will be nominated at conventions in their districts on Monday.
Democrats have held every House seat in Connecticut since 2008.
The Republican Party will nominate its candidates for U.S. Senate and all five congressional delegates at their own convention on Monday at 5 p.m.