It ain't over till it's over, but it's pretty much over for Bernie Sanders now that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee of their party. Associated Press called the Democratic race for Clinton the night before the California primary.
Despite that, Bernie Sanders signaled he's in it to the bitter end. His strategy? Persuade enough superdelegates to support him at the convention in Philadelphia six weeks from now. (About 300 more would have to do so for Sanders to have a shot.)
Some in the party feel it's time for Sanders to bow out. Annie Schmitt, executive director of Pikes Peak Dems, won't go that far but says "it's a little frustrating" that the race is dragging on.
"That campaign fatigue is setting in at a time when people should be getting more excited and more involved," Schmitt says, admitting concerns about the Bernie-or-Bust crowd. "But it's my hope that people will understand the importance of preventing Trump from getting in the White House."
Five delegates will represent the Pikes Peak region at the Democratic National Convention in late July. Pledged to Clinton are Judith Ingelido and Michael Perez. Pledged to Sanders are Angelina Hagan, Jené Jackson and Michael Maday. They are pledged but not bound — meaning they verbally committed to representing what Colorado Democrats expressed at the state convention, but aren't technically obligated.
This will be the fourth convention for pledged Sanders delegate Maday, who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012. He weighed these two candidates very carefully before deciding (literally in his car going to caucus) to support Sanders. He plans to stick to that.
"If I were voting today, I'd vote for Bernie," Maday tells the Indy. "But I'm waiting to see what'll happen. Something could happen like he drops out. But I made a direct commitment to represent voters."
Maday will support Clinton should she end up the nominee, but sees the convention as a ripe opportunity to influence the platform, which serves as a basic sketch of party priorities. The drafting committee — six Clinton picks, five from Sanders and four from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz — has begun meeting to negotiate the platform for delegates to vote on in Philly.
Jackson hopes a $15 minimum wage will make it into the platform, despite Clinton's call for $12 instead. "There's some stuff we need to stick to our guns on," Jackson said (allusion to the candidates' differences on gun control not intended).
Unlike Maday, a longtime party activist, Jackson is a newbie. Unaffiliated her whole life, with some prior involvement in Republican campaigns, Jackson registered as a Democrat this year to vote for Sanders. She hopes Sanders' fresh energy will shape Clinton's campaign, saying, "It already has. "[Clinton] has co-opted so much of his campaign, which is a very smart political move."
Jackson credits Democrats for making progress on LGBTQ rights and health care, but thinks it's time for the party to start shifting toward the base's new priorities. "Sanders reflects the change that's already happened in Americans' minds," she said, adding "it takes a special kind of badass to work within the system for decades."
Sanders' day of reckoning may come soon, Jackson acknowledges, unsure whether she'll pivot to Clinton. But Democrats of all stripes agree that Donald Trump must not take the White House.
As Schmitt puts it: "No candidate is perfect. Bernie isn't perfect; Hillary isn't perfect. But Trump? When people say, 'Oh, it's just picking the lesser of two evils,' it's like no, he's a whole new level."