Hillary Clinton has NJ Democrats’ support. More or less
TRENTON (AP) — New Jersey's Democratic delegation heads into Philadelphia this week strongly behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, but her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders has left some animosity in its wake.
While Clinton defeated Sanders in New Jersey last month to win the vast majority of the state's pledged delegates, the campaign left some bitterness for the state's Democrats after two superdelegates who backed Sanders this spring were removed abruptly last month as members of the Democratic State Committee.
One of the deposed delegates, Assemblyman John Wisniewski will be in Philadelphia, but it'll be his last action as a member of the committee. He said that despite the bitterness over his removal, he expects nearly all of the Sanders supporters to back Clinton eventually, as he will. Still, at least one Sanders delegate, Jorge Gomez Wei, from Fair Lawn, said he has not decided how to vote in November.
William Caruso, a Democratic lobbyist and Sanders-supporting delegate, says he doesn't expect "a lot of drama" over the vote for the nomination. He said he expects to vote for Clinton, and that the entire New Jersey delegation would support her in the end — though he's not sure of the voting mechanics at the convention. Caruso said he sees party unity as more important than bad feelings from the June state meeting where Wisniewski and fellow Sanders supporter Reni Erdos were removed from the committee.
Wisniewski, who has said he was told that no vote was planned at June's state party meeting, said he expects to have some way to voice support for Sanders at the convention.
John Currie, chairman of the state committee, disputes that the planned vote wasn't publicly disclosed, and said that the change wasn't personal. He said that he "wanted to give some other people an opportunity who were good party supporters."
"We have a nice delegation of Senator Sanders supporters," Currie said. "We're working very close together and I'm looking forward to being one untied party here in New Jersey as well as this country focused on electing Secretary Clinton the first woman president of the United States."
Beyond the flap, the state's Democrats say they're looking forward to the week, which will be a break from their typical battles with Republican Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton.
"I am looking forward to be talking about what our vision of leadership is, versus, the kind of crazy stuff we've been seeing" in Cleveland, said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. "I am looking forward to a platform that represents what the majority of people in our state believe."
Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver said one highlight of the convention for her is a platform that will please progressives in the party, including supporters of Bernie Sanders. "We really want to send a strong message on the platform of our party," she said.
CAMDEN ON DISPLAY
While almost all of the action will take place at the Wells Fargo Center and hotels around the Philadelphia region, one of the week's biggest highlights may be happening across the Delaware River in Camden.
Democratic power broker George Norcross will host Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and DJ Jazzy Jeff for a "Camden Rising" concert on Thursday, hours before Clinton delivers her acceptance speech. Tickets were made available to convention guests and others by invitation.
"It's going to be, with the exception of the acceptance speech by Hillary Clinton, the hottest ticket at the convention based on the responses that we've gotten so far," Norcross said. "I think having it in Camden and entitling it 'Camden Rising' and telling a little of the story of Camden is very helpful for the city, its resurgence and what everyone is doing to try to make it a better place."
Norcross is credited with working with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to help in redevelopment efforts in Camden, one of the most impoverished places in the country, many partially funded through state grants and tax credits.
Norcross and his brother, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, are both superdelegates. They were the last in the state to officially declare their support for Clinton, which they did when the concert was announced earlier this month.
CAMPING OUT FOR BERNIE
Bernie Sanders supporters planning protests this week are staying in campgrounds in southern New Jersey.
Thirty miles south of the city, all 200 short-term camp sites at the Four Seasons in Pilesgrove, have been booked this week, the vast majority by Sanders backers, said Cheryl Robinson, one of the owners.
Sanders supporters are expecting tens of thousands to take part in rallies and demonstrations while the Democrats are in Philadelphia through Thursday.
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