Politics & Government

Getting down to business on first day of Democratic convention in Tacoma

VIDEO: Bernie Sanders supporter shows off Bernie puppet

Pledged delegate Donna Burdick from Snohomish County uses a crocheted Bernie Sanders puppet to spark conversation at the 2016 Washington State Democratic Convention held in Tacoma.
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Pledged delegate Donna Burdick from Snohomish County uses a crocheted Bernie Sanders puppet to spark conversation at the 2016 Washington State Democratic Convention held in Tacoma.

Hundreds of Democrats arrived in downtown Tacoma Friday for the first day of the Washington State Democratic Convention, a three-day event focused on establishing a vision for the party and building support for local Democratic campaigns.

Party members formed committees Friday to debate updates to the party platform, as well as rules for how the convention should proceed on Saturday (June 18), when delegates will vote on the platform document, along with proposed changes to the party’s internal rules.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for more than 1,400 Democrats from throughout the state, all 39 counties, to gather and conduct party business and get ready for the campaigns ahead,” said Marc Siegel, a spokesman for the Washington State Democrats.

Inside the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, campaigns for Democratic candidates wooed potential supporters, while local Democratic organizations sold buttons and paraphernalia to support Democrats throughout the state.

Early in the day, Marcee Stone-Vekich stopped by a table to pick up a large sign proclaiming her support for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Stone-Vekich, the chairwoman of the 34th Legislative District Democrats, said she is working to be selected among the state’s final 34 delegates who will attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month. While 67 of the state’s pledged delegates were chosen at earlier Democratic caucuses, the remaining third will be chosen at the state convention on Sunday.

Stone-Vekich, of West Seattle, said she supports Clinton mainly because she thinks she’s the most experienced candidate in the race, but also because “fundamentally, it is time for a woman to be president.”

“I can’t think of anybody better to do the job, even if she wasn’t a woman,” she said.

But there was plenty of Bernie Sanders swag at the convention, and many people who showed up said they will continue to support the independent senator from Vermont.

“If I have to I will write him in on my ballot, and I will go to bed knowing I did what was right for me,” said Timothy Baumgardner of Everett, who is attending the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for Sanders.

Baumgardner said he can’t support Clinton partly due to her support for the Iraq war, but also because she is part of what he sees as a problem within the Democratic party of money having too much of an influence in politics.

Friday’s convention activities were also to include training workshops on Democratic campaigns and party operations.

Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at an evening gala.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209, @melissasantos1

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