Sanders delegates’ convention agenda

Posted at 1:54 PM, Jul 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-24 13:54:24-04

PHILADELPHIA — The Democrats search for a rising star. Convention calculations for Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump makes a Western foray. And the superdelegate saga continues.

These storylines are all part of this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, which previews what political observers will be talking about in the coming days.

1) A Bernie brush fire?

No one expects the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton relationship to devolve into Donald Trump-Ted Cruz territory. But there are lingering frustrations from the primary season, so there may be a few dustups in Philadelphia.

Or even brush fires, as CNN’s Jeff Zeleny put it in describing the potential for Clinton-Sanders tensions during this week’s Democratic National Convention.

“Some Sanders delegates are hoping that Monday is an opportunity for them to have their say. They were watching in Cleveland with great interest. Yes, the rules are different. Almost everything is different. The Clintons are definitely running a tighter convention here, but, the Sanders people are not that thrilled with her pick for a vice president. And they’re enraged by this leak episode at the DNC.”

2) The superdelegate study

Why make a decision when you can appoint a commission?

Another big Sanders convention priority was getting rid of the so-called superdelegates who have favored Hillary Clinton. Those are the elected officials and party activists who wield convention votes and can decide who to support regardless of voting in their home states.

The party establishment wants to protect its perks, and so Sanders’ proposal ran into trouble in the convention rules committee. But the proposed rules do call for a study, which may steer the commission toward Sanders’ priorities.

It recommends the commission keep the superdelegates, but requires that all but a select few be bound by results of the primary or caucus in their home state.

3) Boston is to Obama as Philadelphia is to …?

Who will be this year’s Barack Obama?

As in, do the Democrats have a next-generation star who will become a household name this week?

Obama made his big jump in 2004 as a prime-time speaker at the convention in Boston that nominated John Kerry for president.

Julie Pace of the Associated Press noted that the list of Democratic prospects this year isn’t as long because the GOP has had so much success in state and local elections during the Obama years.

“There just isn’t a big bench for the Democratic party, particularly in governor’s mansions across the country,” she said. “You have Democratic leaders who will be watching some of these lesser-known Democrats to see if one of them may be the next rising star who could be up for (a presidential) election in four or eight years.”

4) History through the eyes of Willie Brown

Willie Brown is now a fixture at Democratic conventions, but he wasn’t always treated as a party icon.

The liberal activist and former San Francisco mayor recalls when it was hard for African-American delegates to get their credentials.

Jonathan Martin of The New York Times shared snippets from an oral history of sorts that Brown recorded.

“It was fascinating talking to him about the changing nature of these conventions,” Martin said. “You know, he was a young man in his 30s fighting folks from the South who did not want to have black delegations seated. He is now here at the end of a two-term black president, and watching him … and what the party has become was a fascinating hour for me.”

5) Go west, Mr. Trump

Donald Trump heads west this week, looking to make inroads in a region that has been difficult for him.

Colorado is the swing-state prize Trump hopes to sway, and CNN’s Maeve Reston notes that recent polls there have shown a steady lead for Hillary Clinton. But Trump being more competitive in Colorado could help tilt the electoral college.

“Talking to people in that state, though, it’s really interesting to see the reaction to the Pence pick there because in some ways Pence could help Trump turn out social conservatives, but (he) hurts him with so many of those key swing voters who are critical to him winning there,” she said. “So it will be fascinating to see how he plays that this week.”