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LAS VEGAS (CBSMiami/AP) — Democratic Convention organizers in Nevada are shooting back against allegations that they unfairly disqualified dozens of would-be Bernie Sanders delegates.
Thousands of Nevada Democrats converged on the Paris casino in Las Vegas to help decide the party’s presidential nominee, though tensions between supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton threatened to stymie the event.
The controversy comes after Hillary Clinton took seven of the 12 delegates up for grabs at the Saturday convention. She won by 33 delegates in a field of nearly 3,400.
The convention ended in out-of-control fashion when Chairwoman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, Roberta Lange, who’s also a member of the national DNC Executive Committee, announced the results of a voice vote, used a gavel to adjourn the meeting and quickly left the venue.
A member of the convention credentials committee presented a “minority report” after the announcement, criticizing the committee’s decision to disqualify nearly 60 potential Sanders delegates and saying it didn’t align with Democratic values.
Party officials said the ineligible Sanders supporters weren’t registered as Democrats by a May 1 deadline or didn’t provide necessary personal information. They said eight would-be Clinton supporters were also disqualified.
The state party said it abided by rules adopted by Clinton and Sanders supporters alike.
It’s the latest run-in Sanders supporters have had against the Clinton camp and party leaders. Sanders supporters filed a lawsuit last week alleging the Nevada State Democratic Party blocked them from running for party office, saying there was conflicting information about a candidate filing deadline.
Judge Ronald Israel tossed the case Friday, saying the courts wouldn’t interfere in a dispute within the party unless there was a compelling reason to do so.
At Saturday’s event, Sanders supporters protested a set of convention rules that were eventually adopted and booed at mentions of Hillary Clinton.
“Boo all you want. Boo louder. Because you’re booing Bernie Sanders and you’re booing this country,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a surrogate for Clinton.
Democratic U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid tried to quell the unrest with a statement Friday saying he’d “talked to my friend Senator Sanders today” and the two camps needed to cooperate.
“I hope Senator Sanders’ supporters heed his call for an orderly and respectful Nevada State Democratic Party Convention,” Reid said. “The success of Nevada Democrats up and down the ballot in November depends on it.”
The state party also distributed a statement from Sanders himself.
“We share a commitment to electing progressive Democrats up-and-down the ballot in Nevada and across the country and are committed to soundly defeating Donald Trump and the right-wing Republican agenda,” the Vermont senator said. “Working together respectfully and constructively on Saturday at the Nevada Democratic convention will move us closer to those essential goals.”
Candidates already locked in some of their delegates based on the results of Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and locked in 13 delegates, while Bernie Sanders received 10.
Sanders scored an upset at Nevada’s county-level conventions last month, winning 55 percent of the delegates thanks to robust turnout among his supporters. But no delegates were tied to the county results, and Sanders would have had to maintain that majority to win a majority of the delegates up for grabs at the state convention.
Party leaders urged Democrats to unify toward their common goals, including returning the Legislature to Democratic control and keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.
“Sixteen different Republicans tried and failed to stop Trump this year,” said Lange. “Now it’s up to all of us to get the job done.”
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